A Steuben County school district is trying a new approach to learning. After nearly two years of planning, the Wayland-Cohocton Central School District recently completed a project with flying colors. YNN's Crystal Cranmore shows us how therapists plan on helping students reach their true potential.
WAYLAND, N.Y. -- You're not likely to stumble upon one of these in many schools.
“I like the orange the best. It’s a very vibrant color,” said Lauren Hughes, a student at Wayland-Cohocton Middle School.
And you might not find this either.
“The ball pit has these little air filled bubbles,” said Hughes.
The bubble tube and the ball pit are just two components that make up this Multi-Sensory Environment. School officials say it’s the first in any New York public school. It’s designed for students with special needs.
“It's not just for kids with autism or kids on the autism spectrum. It could be kids with visual impairments or speech impediments,” said Jacqueline Hughes.
Hughes is a teacher in the district and one of several people who spearheaded the effort . One of her inspirations is her own daughter, Lauren.
Hughes said, “All of the kids are different and unique. We see the struggles that they all have and we realized at some point that we really wanted to do more for them.”
And they did. With the help of St. James Mercy Hospital and an expert at the American Association of Multi-Sensory environments, they turned a dream into a reality last month.
Through sound, visuals and textures in a controlled environment, therapists say an MSE room helps change behavior and creates positive feelings. It aims to maximize a person's potential to focus.
One of the key components in the room is the projector. It promotes movement which stimulates the brain.
“We're coming to understand that the brain can be rewired. Some of the behavior patterns that we see that we just assumed were unchangeable can be changed, but only in a proper setting,” said Robert Hughes, a teacher and Jacqueline’s husband.
“Nothing tortures the soul of an educator quite so much as unrealized potential,” said Hughes.
It's that very passion that's the force behind this project, making it a little easier for students like Lauren to focus and excel in the classroom.
The district says the multi-sensory environment is not intended for every student having difficulty. Therapists will work to identify students who might benefit from the room.