LAKE CITY, S.C. -- Florence County School District Three opened its second sensory room in April.

Last year, the district created a sensory room at Lake City Early Childhood Center. And this spring, a sensory and action-based learning room opened at Dr. Ronald E. McNair School of Digital Communication and Leadership.

Cheryl Hubbard-George, the district’s director of exceptional children, said the room is an inclusive space that she wants both students and teachers to take advantage of. She said she wants them to be able to have that safe space to go to, reflect, plan and grow.

Inside the sensory room, there is a space for relaxation and a space for action-based learning. In the relaxation space, the lights are dim and gentle sounds can be heard. The area includes balance surf boards, bean bags, books and other things.

In the action-based learning space, the area is lit with brighter lights and includes balance balls, a boxing bag and gloves, weight bench and action bikes with iPads to access instructions.

Both sides of the room include smart boards.

The goal of the sensory-motor room is to provide a space for students to use sensory-motor strategies to help them change their alert levels to optimal, promoting student engagement and academic achievement. Hubbard-George said she envisions teachers using the space for professional development and even yoga.

“I do think it gives the opportunity that after school, teachers can come in here," she said. "They, too, can decompress. They, too, can build a better community among their colleagues. We can put up yoga on the smart boards. Teachers can do yoga. We can do Zumba over here. Teachers can do Zumba, because they are overworked and stressed as well, and I think this gives them an option. “

Hubbard-George said she selected the middle school to house the district’s newest sensory room because students in that age group are “going through the hormones and who-am-I kind of stuff.” She said that is a big risk factor in and of itself.

“This was a perfect location as well, because they had the space available,” Hubbard-George said. “I think all schools would’ve loved the sensory room, but all schools don’t have the ability to give up a classroom in order to accommodate a sensory room.”

Providing a sensory room for the middle school students allows them a chance to share their emotions, said Laura Hickson, the Florence County School District Three superintendent.

“We all know at the middle school level, they come with a lot of emotions,” Hickson said. “And this is just a great way for them to channel those emotions in a positive, safe way.”

The sensory room was completed in collaboration with Spears Beckham, owner of EdSoulutions in Florence.

The project was funded by the state’s Maintenance of State Financial Support spending plan to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. The space is created to promote inclusive practices and positive behavior intervention and supports for all students.

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