A Scenic Sensory Corner
By Maddie Interdonato
At the Boys and Girls Club (BGC) of the San Luis Valley in Alamosa, youth numbers have been rising. While it is great that more kiddos are able to stay safe and engaged with the BGC’s programs, Leslie Sizemore noticed that it is making it more difficult to meet the needs of the youth who may have disabilities.
Leslie is an Alpine Achievers Initiative AmeriCorps Member who serves at the BGC full-time. She has a background working with children with disabilities, speech disorders and autism, and realized how important is it for these kids to have a place to get away when they get over stimulated. She had a vision of creating a Sensory Corner, and it was able to come to life with help from the Children & Nature Network.
Leslie applied for Community Action Funds from the Children & Nature Network and upon seeing what a great project it was, she was awarded the funds. With the grant and support of the BGC staff, she transformed a corner of the BGC into a scenic getaway with mountains, blue skies, and a cozy tent. She also was able to purchase things like noise cancelling headphones, fidget toys and weighted blankets to create a safe space for the BGC youth. “I am so lucky to have been able to create this space for the kids at the BGC. The Children & Nature Network gave me the opportunity to leave a lasting impression at the Club and hopefully one that these kids will benefit from years from now. I am already starting to see changes in the kids who have used this corner as a place of comfort, and for me, that has been the most rewarding part of my AmeriCorps experience so far,” states Leslie.
Now, on days where there may be upwards of a hundred kids at the Boys and Girls Club, there is a cozy place for kids to go if they are finding it too loud, hard to focus, or frustrating. This corner not only serves as a cozy spot for members who need a quiet space, but it also opens up conversations with members about outdoor education and the importance of connecting to nature. Leslie has already started working on projects involving the outdoor aspect of the Sensory Corner with the kiddos at the BGC. They have begun sewing a campfire out of pillows to encourage gross motor skill production, and help the kids learn how to make a campfire outdoors.
The sensory corner project is just one great example of the amazing impact our AmeriCorps members are making on youth in the San Luis Valley. Learn more about the Boys and Girls Club here.