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New sensory room at Port aux Basques high school hit with staff, students

Alex LeRiche painted the mural in the new sensory room. JOAN CHAISSON/THE GULF NEWS
Alex LeRiche painted the mural in the new sensory room. JOAN CHAISSON/THE GULF NEWS - Contributed

Students attending St. James High School have started their year with a brand new sensory room.
This room is a safe place where students can listen to quiet music or use some of the sensory resources to relieve anxiety or sensory challenges.
This will allow the student to return to class with a much greater focus and ability to learn. 
Alex LeRiche donated his time and talent to paint calming murals on the walls, giving the room a true feeling of comfort and security.
The resources in the room include items such as a rocking chair, a sensory large bean pillow, a pea pod (sensory type canoe), a hammock, a bouncy chair, visual lights, fidget items, and more. All items were purchased with one of the seven senses in mind — the five usual senses plus the proprioceptive sense (knowing where your body is in space and need of pressure on your body) and vestibular sense (balance in your body). The room is smaller than a regular classroom and it can easily be used as a model for other schools.
The funding for this project came from money donated and raised in the community and surrounding areas.
Nikki Carroll, the IR teacher, also worked closely with the AIM (Autism Involves Me) group, which helped her to furnish the room. AIM also donated money from the Light It Up Fundraiser last April to go towards the paints and needed resources.
Notre Dame Agencies also donated the glider rocking chair, which was priced over $500.
“We wanted to get a sensory room because, looking into the future, we realized there were several students who would be coming from the elementary school who needed this room very badly, and we also recognized that there were students already in our school who would also avail of the sensory room," Carroll said.
Parents are also very pleased with this addition to the school. Candace Parsons, a parent of a child who needs sensory breaks, commented “The sensory room will be an essential component of school life for so many students," said Candace Parsons, the parent of a child who needs sensory breaks.
"It will serve as a safe space and an important learning environment which will contribute to better outcomes, both socially and academically. We are so fortunate to have a partnership between AIM and the schools in our area to make this a reality.”
Student Isaac Parsons also gave the room two thumbs up.
“It’s a great place to feel calm and take a break," he said. "It’s a great addition to the school, especially with the painted walls. It keeps me calm and helps me focus.”
Carroll says she's delighted with the room.
“Our students were so excited when they saw the room was completed. They walked in and had a look of awe on their faces and almost all of them exclaimed, 'Wow!'," she said.
"Since school started, students have used this room so much it makes my heart swell with happiness. I wish we had it in place way before now, but to finally have a space for our sensory-based students to calm and relax is absolutely awesome." 
 


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