Sensory room creating safe play space for children in Labrador City

·2 min read
The newly renovated sensory room has tubes filled with lights, such as this one captivating Robin Hillier's son Charles. The lights change colour and can help calm children while teaching developmental skills, according to occupational therapist Kara Budden. (Darryl Dinn/CBC - image credit)
The newly renovated sensory room has tubes filled with lights, such as this one captivating Robin Hillier's son Charles. The lights change colour and can help calm children while teaching developmental skills, according to occupational therapist Kara Budden. (Darryl Dinn/CBC - image credit)

A newly renovated sensory room is creating a place for children of all abilities to play in Labrador City.

A non-profit called Indoor Play Labrador, which runs a local playground called Kids Club, created the sensory room after local parents helped raised money for the room. It was named the HARP room after the last names of the parents: Hancock, Adams, Rumbolt and Penney.

This year, the Kids Club group received a $20,000 grant from the Communities Revitalization Program to renovate the sensory room. The program helps community groups upgrade infrastructure and rebound from COVID-19.

Robin Hillier's son Charles has autism and she said the room helps her son because other playgrounds can be overstimulating.

"Having an autistic child who is very sensory seeking and has different sensory needs, it's amazing that there's a room here especially designed to accommodate children like Charles," she said.

Sometimes the large indoor playground can be fun and Charles can watch other children play as well, Hillier said, while other times it can be also overstimulating for him.

Darryl Dinn/CBC
Darryl Dinn/CBC

"It's nice to have this room so he can just kind of get away from that, ground himself, regulate himself for a little bit before he goes back out there," Hillier said.

The room was designed with help from occupational therapist Kara Budden. Indoor Play Labrador contacted Budden and together they ordered "therapy grade equipment," Budden said. She said the equipment can help all children's development and provide a calm environment.

Darryl Dinn/CBC
Darryl Dinn/CBC

"It's safe, it's calm. But it also fills a need," Budden said. "Anyone who's just a bit sensitive when it comes to sensory stimulation, they could be sensitive to noise or light, and that changes from day to day… So having this space just really is inclusive."

There is a "magic hands board" at the entrance to the room, which sensitive to heat, so children can draw on it with the warmth from their palms, Budden said. Beside that is the "dressing board" where children can practice motor skills using zippers, buttons and hats.

Darryl Dinn/CBC
Darryl Dinn/CBC

"There's some fine motor skill development, sensory development through sounds, colours, tactile textures. There's some great opportunity for turn taking and vocabulary development with these different sensory boards that we have around the room," Budden said.

There's also a rocking bowl children can rock in and a sensory cavern; a dark, quiet mat room similar to a fort. In a corner there is a micro-LED light display that slowly changes colours and with films of nature scenes and serene skies projected on the wall.

Families with a membership to Kids Club through Indoor Play Labrador can access the sensory room.

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