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Arts Council of Southeast Missouri creates sensory inclusive classroom for people with disabilities

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 8:39 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 10:29 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The Arts Council of Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau has created what it calls a sensory inclusive classroom.

It’s a learning space for adults and children with disabilities.

“This room is definitely a labor of love,” said Kelly Downes.

Arts council director Kelly Downes says they’ve created a sensory inclusive classroom for people with disabilities to have a space where they feel comfortable to be creative.

“There are a lot of people with a lot of different talents and a lot of different ability levels and there are also a lot of people with needs that they have and some of those needs are to explore, to create, to connect,” said Downes.

The classroom features noise cancelling headphones.

On the ceiling are clouds, made of cotton balls with LED lights and a variety of seating arrangements.

“Bringing people into the space whoever you are, whatever your ability level and then starting to see who comes into the space and how we can modify to meet their needs,” said Downes.

The Discovery Playhouse in Cape Girardeau is one of the sponsors who helped with this project.

“The reason that we wanted to become a part of the Collab lab in the sensory room is to help neurodiversity individuals feel like they have a place that they can create. At discovery playhouse our place is amazing but due to high traffic volume a lot of times neurodiversity individuals can struggle with sensory overload,” said Michael Toeniskoetter.

That’s why the executive manager Michael Toeniskoetter wanted to be apart this classroom project.

“We figured this would be a perfect way to start in that field,” said Toeniskoetter.

Downes says she really wants this to be a space for everyone.

“This is going to be a classroom space for the community and hopefully you know not only do we welcome field trips here, but we also want to go into schools in the area and make sure that their getting unique artistic experiences as well,” said Downes.

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