By Martha Phillips
Special to the Daily Sun
The Early Childhood Academy along with James L. Collins Catholic School celebrated the grand opening of its brand-new Multisensory Outdoor Learning Center on Nov. 21.
Kay Bush Mousner, whose daughter attends James L. Collins Catholic School, volunteered her services to designed the Multi-Sensory Outdoor Learning Center. Mousner gave special consideration to the requirements of he Early Childhood Academy as a daycare center as well as the needs for the pre-K through 2nd graders of James L. Collins Catholic School.
“This Multisensory Outdoor Learning Center is not your typical playground and is like none other in the area. Each activity was specifically chosen and designed to facilitate the sensory and developmental needs of the children using it,” said Fr. Jason Cargo. “The design for the slide is a focal point. Recycled tires painted bright colors allow the children to climb up to a platform area and then slide down. The tires were intentionally stair-stepped in a way that would allow the younger children to climb using both their hands and feet in a reciprocal fashion that developmentally promotes visual tracking needed for reading and writing. The child then will receive sensory information to the vestibular system as they slide down the slide. The vestibular system is foundational for growth and development of most other sensory systems.”
This is just one example of the many sensory activities in this learning center. Some others include the tricycle trail, music center, sand box and much more.
Cargo opened the ceremony thanking everyone involved. Renee Ozier, principal of JLCCS also spoke, as did Kay Mousner, designer, and Dr. Joe Saucedo, chairman of the board for Early Childhood Academy. Cargo ended with a blessing naming the new project the “St. Bernadette Multi-sensory Outdoor Learning Center.”
St. Bernadette, the inspiration for the movie “The Song of Bernadette,” was a sickly child in France during the 1850’s. She was very poor, and suffered from asthma. The Virgin Mary appeared to her several times, and when Bernadette asked who she was, the Virgin Mary replied, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” That is where the local Catholic church derived its name.
Students from the Navarro College Occupational Therapy Assistant program volunteered to have fun with the kids as they explored all of the sensory activities. The outdoor learning center was set up as an obstacle course for the kids to go from one activity to the next as sort of a “Sensory Fun Run.” Each student from the college partnered with an eighth grade student from JLCCS at each station.
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