INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Perry Meridian High School student Kevin Waggoner has created a sensory room at an elementary school in the Perry Township Schools district.
It’s his Boy Scouts Eagle Scout community service project. Waggoner said he wanted to give back to the community in a big way, especially to children with disabilities. The senior has a cousin with special needs.
“I kind of grew up knowing the community and realizing that there was an issue of not a lot of funding that goes toward special needs programs,” the senior at Perry Meridian said.
It took about a year to plan and put the room together. Waggoner said it only took a few weeks to raise about $3,500 for the sensory room at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.
Around 40 students on average stop by the room a day.
“Along the way I would’ve never actually imagined seeing it done because there were so many things that came up, but now that it’s done it’s great to look back and see what I’ve accomplished,” Waggoner said.
The sensory room is for students to take a break and decompress. They can refocus and be better learners before going back to class.
Brooke McDonald, an occupational therapist with Perry Township Schools, said, “It gives them a break when they need that from that more stimulating environment; come down here, take a break so they can calm their sensory systems down or get some movement out.”
McDonald said students with limited mobility and cognition take advantage of the bright colors, activities and visual stimulation inside the room.
“We have weighted balls so if they play with those, they’re getting heavy work; if they get on the scooter, they’re getting that movement and activity,” McDonald said. “Even our magnet board up here has resistance to it so it’s hard to choose an activity in this room that doesn’t give them that sensory input.”
The school said each student must to be with an adult to enter the sensory room. Students spend as little as 10 minutes to an hour in the room with adult supervision.
“I’ve been back a couple times and I’ve gotten to see a couple kids use it and they seem to really enjoy it, so that means a lot.”