AN ARTS foundation which received £7,000 from The Press’ parent company has launched a new programme to help people with learning difficulties.

The Gannett Foundation donated funds to Accessible Arts and Media last year to help them set up iMUSE - a unique interactive music, sound, visual and vibration stimulation experience that gives those with disabilities the chance to control their environment through movement and sound.

At the start of each 30-minute session, music and vibrations are used to gently relax and focus the mind.

This allows the individual to think, communicate and learn independently, a rare achievement, as their experiences are often limited due to the complex nature of their disabilities or medical needs.

During the session, microphones pick up sounds made by the individual - any changes in volume or pitch are used to create changes in the patterns and colours that are projected in the iMUSE space.

They can also control the graphics and the sounds they can hear through movement, picked up by movement sensors.

Rose Kent, managing director, said: "It’s fantastic to see how some of the people we work with have responded to iMUSE.

"Individuals have gone from being almost completely passive to learning how to interact and take control of their environment.

"We’re all very excited about the possibilities for developing the programme further over the coming year, so that more people can benefit. Huge thanks from everyone here for the funding we received from the Gannett Foundation and The Brelms Trust, which has made it all possible."

Accessible Arts and Media have started running regular iMUSE sessions as part of their sensory programme at Burton Stone Community Centre, on Evelyn Crescent, York, every Friday from 10am to 2pm and are now launching an outreach programme.

The Gannett Foundation is the charitable arm of Gannett Co Inc, the parent company of Newsquest Media Group, owners of The Press, and offers grants of up to £10,000 to projects every year.