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New London, VA: Elem school students get sensory path to meet "growing need"

Feb 1, 2020, Lynchburg (VA) News & Advance: Sensory paths help Lynchburg-area elementary students ‘burn off a little steam,’ refocus One hallway at New London Academy will see a lot more action this semester. On Jan. 23, members of the New London community began laying down the school’s new sensory pathway — a colorful, interactive path designed to allow students the opportunity to use their excess energy in a constructive way. Sold as kits from a company called The Sensory Path, these paths can include alphabet hopscotch, wall push-ups and numbers on sunflowers. The paths disprove the mindset “kids shouldn’t run in school” and replaces it with an educational and structured way for children to quickly, briefly burn off energy before returning to the classroom or next activity. Joel Abe, principal at New London Academy, said school administrators began to notice a growing need for students to have the opportunity to burn off extra energy and work on their gross motor skills. … Abe said he’s seen the paths growing in popularity among elementary schools that are looking for alternative ways to address the behavioral and physical needs of students. Abe said he heard positive feedback from the principal at Forest Elementary School about the sensory path installed there during summer 2019. New London’s school nurse wrote a grant proposal to the Bedford Area Education Foundation for a sensory path, Abe said, and the foundation partnered with the Bedford Community Health Foundation to pay for New London’s roughly $1,700 path…. “Kids are having trouble focusing in class, and the go-to has been classroom removal — either ISS [in-school suspension] or out-of-school suspension — and, realistically, statistics show us that kids out of class don’t end up doing well in school,” Guerin said. “So what as a school can we do to support our students who may have excess energy they need to get out? Well, here’s a perfect way.” Kristin Smith, an instructional coach at T.C. Miller, said she applied for a grant through the Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation in May 2019, and by July 2019, the school was notified the $1,500 grant was approved. Within a few weeks, Smith said, they were placing the order for the sensory path…. Guerin said teachers at several other Lynchburg schools have expressed interest in their path, and Linkhorne Elementary School currently is in the process of getting a path. Brookneal Elementary School took a different approach, turning an entire room into a sensory room. Assistant Principal Sharron Gunter said that way, the room could be used for sensory instruction as well. She said while sensory paths especially are beneficial for students with sensory processing disorders, such as autism or attention deficit disorders, Brookneal recognizes every student can benefit from spending time on the paths….


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