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Sensory room to assist W.O. Parmer students

A new sensory room is open and ready to go at W.O. Parmer Elementary School in Greenville.

The school welcomed visitors on Tuesday, offering the chance to learn about and experience the room.

Special services specialist Shawaungela Bolden explain the premise of the sensory room and how Butler County Schools educators made it happen.

“The S.N.A.P (sensory needs at play) room is a therapeutic room with a variety of equipment to help students with disabilities… to learn and better interact with others,” she said.

“It’s kid-friendly, and designed to help those with socialization issues… We have some seasoned educators on our team and we researched, attended a work shop and visited other sensory rooms and came up with a wish list and a plan.”

Bolden also explained that the educators used experiences with specific children throughout the years to place certain items in the room that helped those children.

The S.N.A.P room itself is darkened, and accented with light, meditative music. Items in the room include a massage chair, light-up seats and other interactive lights, a ball pit that lightly vibrates to the music, a safe crash pad for students to jump on, a small trampoline, various objects to touch and otherwise interact with, a hammock and more.

A pamphlet given out by the school lists several specific benefits of the room:

“It can provide a place for an individual to go when a meltdown occurs…it can be a calm space where they can regain control of their emotions… while they can’t necessarily take away their brain’s sensitivity to certain stimuli, they can train their brain to overcome its sensitivity and develop coping mechanisms that will serve them well in the world.”

Bolden said the educators next plan to extend the concept of the sensory room to other Butler County Schools.

“Our mission is…successful inclusion for all students. We in our department have a vision of a district where schools are equipped to welcome all students and engage them in learning while meeting all their needs. It is our hope that the services we provide will improve their quality of life,” Bolden said.

Finally, Bolden also credited special education teacher Allison Hall for helping to make the sensory room a reality.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank [Allison Hall] officially for sharing this vision with me, your leadership, contributions and perseverance. Your contributions to this room will be appreciated for generations and your handprints are forever involved with the legacy of service for students with disabilities in this district,” Bolden said. 

The educators also reached out to the community for help, and extended special thanks to Hancock Whitney Bank, ASE Credit Union and individuals in the community for helping to fund the sensory room.