Sensory Environment room opens at Scottsdale Adapted Recreation Services

Bubble tube

The bubble tube (Submitted photo)

Scottsdale’s Adapted Recreation Service center welcomed the community to its new multi-sensory environment room with an open house and formal dedication ceremony Thursday, April 9.

Multi-sensory rooms create a stimulating yet calming atmosphere that can offer therapeutic benefits to people of all ages and with a variety of disabilities, explained Deanna Zuppan, recreation supervisor for Scottsdale’s Adapted Recreation Services.

For many people challenged by neurological issues, problems with fine motor skills, movement and self-awareness, or  visual or speech impairment, the opportunity to interact with this space and have a direct impact on their environment can be very motivating and empowering, Ms. Zuppan said in an April 8 e-mail correspondence.

The room opened April 9 with an open house at the Adapted Recreation Services center, 8102 E. Jackrabbit Road in Scottsdale. Mayor Jim Lane formally dedicated the room at 6:30 p.m. that evening.

Fiber optic spray lights

Fiber optic spray lights (Submitted photo)

Scottsdale’s multi-sensory room is divided into four sections, each with a specific function and purpose, describes a press release.

Social Scene lets visitors relax and mingle with friends in an interactive environment; Exploration Station is an area to touch, feel and explore a variety of objects; and Kinetic Korner uses energy to mold kinetic sand and uncover hidden objects, the press release continues.

In Dream Land, visitors can relax into an egg chair and spend some time away from the outside world. The egg chairs provide a tight and secure space that can be especially comforting to people with autism, described Kira Peters, one of the team members to help construct the room.

Scottsdale Leadership Team Possibilities 5.0 built the multi-sensory room as part of a team project, Ms. Peters explained in an April 7 phone interview.

“It was such a perfect opportunity,” Ms. Peters remembered introducing the project idea to the rest of the team. “The space was there, there was some funding associated with it, all they needed was the manpower.”

The team began working on the room the beginning of January, meeting once or twice a week to discuss planning and then spending Saturday building the multi-sensory environment.

Ms. Peters said, the room was being used by the recreation center for storage. Team Possibilities 5.0 started out with a blank room full of boxes and spare equipment.

New flooring, lighting and interactive activities turned the space from a storage room into a multi-sensory environment that can be rearranged to perform different tasks.

For instance, a bubble tube might turn red when visitors interact with it, but could be reprogrammed to do something completely different next month, Ms. Peters described.

The Adapted Recreation Services center is a hub for community members of all ages who have disabilities and may need accommodations to participate in city programs, Ms. Zuppan said.

The idea for a multi-sensory environment room came to her about seven years ago when the city first began renovation of the recreation center, remembered Ms. Zuppan. It took the help of a grant from the Pima-Salt River Maricopa Indian Community, a donation from Express Flooring, assistance from city Facilities Maintenance employees, and three months of manpower from the Scottsdale Leadership team to turn that idea into a reality.

The multi-sensory room hosts multiple scheduled programs throughout the week, and is available by reservation for organizations and therapists who provide services to the disabled community.

The multi-sensory room does not work for everyone, and is not open to the public, explained Ms. Peters. It’s meant to be a guided experience.

Anyone interested in taking a tour of the recreation center, including the multi-sensory room, or in learning more about center programs and services, is invited to contact Ms. Zuppan at 480-312-2204 to schedule an appointment.

Ms. Walker is a freelance journalist under contract with the North Valley Office of Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA

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