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Strongsville, OH: Local church offers "multi-sensory space" for special needs children

Apr 16, 2023, News5, Cleveland: Strongsville UMC christens multi-sensory space for worshipers with special needs

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — After several years of planning and millions of dollars in fundraising, a Strongsville church has nearly completed its mission of building a space for those of all abilities.

On Sunday, Strongsville United Methodist Church officially dedicated and christened its $5.3 million, 15,000 square foot expansion to its existing location on Royalton Road. The expansion includes a large space dedicated to youth ministries, a new front lobby and, most importantly, a unique, multi-sensory space that will serve children with special needs. The multi-sensory space will be utilized for Sunday School offerings and the church’s ‘ReCharge Respite’ program.

“We want to be a church that welcomes children and young adults with special needs,” said Reverend Dave Scavuzzo, the lead pastor. “There are a lot of families that can’t come to church or worship because there aren’t people that know how to manage their kids with the love and embrace that they need.”

Scavuzzo said the expanded space will allow the church to grow its litany of ministries. The congregation, which boasts more than 1000 members, coalesced around the goal.

“There are sensory rooms, therapy swings. There will be a digital aquarium to bring calm and lots of equipment and games and toys,” Scavuzzo said. “[In addition to the equipment], there will be adults who gather with the kids, including physical therapists, docs, nurses, etc.”

The expansion, which increases the church’s physical footprint by more than 60 percent, is the culmination of more than five years of planning and a church-led fundraising campaign that covered a majority of the $5.3 million construction cost. A fully accessible bathroom has also been added to the multi-sensory space, which was partly funded by a grant from Joni and Friends. …

Because of the successful fundraising efforts, the church could expand without increasing its operational cost.

“It would draw more people to the church because there would be more opportunities for ministry that could flow from here with the additional space that was added,” said Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, the resident bishop for United Methodist Church’s east Ohio Conference. “We’re already doing ministry with persons with differing needs but now with additional space we would be able to do more ministry.”

Strongsville UMC has been at its current location since 2007, which is the fourth location since the congregation was formed in the early 1800s. The church expects to receive its occupancy permit in late April.


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