FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 18, 2023
Contact: Santino R. Thomas
(518) 949-4809 | [email protected]
ALBANY, N.Y. – A new sensory obstacle course was recently installed at St. Catherine’s Center for Children’s R & E May School with the help of Assemblymember Pat Fahy. Fahy secured a State and Municipal Facilities Program (SAM) grant to fund the project. The obstacle course will provide students with a non-intrusive way to introduce sensory stimulation into the learning environment, helping to promote focus, concentration, and engagement.
“We are incredibly grateful to Assemblymember Fahy for securing the funding to provide this unique addition for our students,” said Frank Pindiak, executive director at St. Catherine’s Center for Children. “The installation of the sensory obstacle course grants students the opportunity to develop vital sensory processing skills through play. By moving through and around obstacles, our children play an active role in regulating sensory process tasks in a functional manner.”
“We know that sensory stimulation is a growing and effective tool to employ when it comes to driving focus, concentration, and engagement for our students,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “I was happy to help secure funding to assist with the cost of St. Catherine’s Center for Children’s new sensory obstacle course, which will help to enhance student experiences while ensuring all students are able to improve their mental and physical health in ways tailored to their needs. I commend St. Catherine’s for continuing to invest in well-rounded, holistic educational experience for all of its students.”
The obstacle course is composed of sensory stickers which come in various shapes, sizes and textures, and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including walls, desks and chairs. The recently installed obstacle course can be especially effective for students who experience frustration, anger or other sensory overloads throughout the day. The younger students are provided with simpler pathways, such as hopscotch, log jumps or a crab walk, whereas older children use more complex stickers, such as the massive figure-eight.
Within the first day of use, R & E May School Occupational Therapist, Caite Wolf, said she noticed a significant difference in her students.
“We’re already seeing a great response to the stickers. In particular, the figure-eight activates their eyes while they cross the mid-line. The mid-line refers to an imaginary line that goes vertically down the body. Crossing this line through movement promotes communication and coordination between both hemispheres of the brain,” Wolf said.
“The stickers provide our little ones, who like to race down the hallway, with something to focus on,” she continued. “When they use their body, it helps them with everything from regulation to focusing their attention or simply trying to harness their energy.”
St. Catherine’s R & E May School provides education and therapeutic services to children with special behavioral, emotional and educational needs.
Upon entry into the May School, students undergo an assessment aimed at determining their unique needs. Based on this assessment, the school staff creates a personalized education plan that caters to each student’s individual needs. The school maintains a close working relationship with the students’ family, school district and residential community to ensure that each student acquires the skills, awareness, and knowledge necessary to thrive in a traditional school environment upon return.
“I think of sensory regulation as a braid. Separate strands are all over the place,” said Wolf. “Whereas something like our new sensory obstacle course promotes sensory integration. We’re weaving the strands together, organizing a child’s body and mind, which allows them to be more centered, and successful in the classroom.”
The willingness of St. Catherine’s Center for Children to embrace change and develop new services is, and will remain, our guiding philosophy as we support human service needs, throughout the region, by providing a comprehensive range of services designed to offer hope, foster growth and improve the lives of the children, families and adults we serve.
For more information, http://www.st-cath.org.