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Girl Scout project: Teens create sensory room

Hope Kueker and Kaylee Nelson show off the new sensory room at Grace Lutheran Church in Fairmont. The room was created by the girls for a Girl Scout Silver Award project.

Grace Lutheran Church in Fairmont will have something new to offer the community when churches are allowed to reopen, thanks to two soft-spoken but dedicated teens.

Seventh- and eighth-grade Girl Scouts Kaylee Nelson and Hope Kueker have created a community sensory room in the nursery at Grace for their Girl Scout Silver Award project.

A sensory room contains toys and products to help children and adults — especially those with sensory processing disorders and autism, learning disabilities, ADHD and developmental disabilities — engage their senses: touch, smell, sight, hearing, movement and balance.

The girls shared their story.

“It’s a room for people who have disabilities and just need an area to calm down,” Kueker said.

Although one might at first think they are walking into a kids playroom with multiple-colored walls and soft lighting, Nelson explained that the room is available for people of all ages who might need help.

“I have anxiety and anger issues, and we know some people who also do,” she said. “So we wanted to make a place so they didn’t feel like they had to run off and could feel safe in the church, because you should feel safe and this should be a safe place.”

In a letter to the church, the girls explained that the room helps a person relax, remain calm and overcome fears in safe and non-threatening environment. According to the girls, infants and preschool-age children also benefit from a sensory room by engaging their senses, stimulating different parts of theirs brains and increasing their cognitive abilities. They noted that people who suffer from sensory issues have a difficult time in loud places with lots of commotion, and they hope the room can be used as a place to socialize with others in a calming and relaxing atmosphere.

The girls say the project took four or five months from conception to completion, and are thankful for help from family, friends and fellow troop members.

“We also had a lot of donations and grants,” Nelson said.

“It’s for anybody in the community,” Kueker added.

The girls chose Grace Lutheran Church because many community and church groups use the facility. These include ARC, which promotes and protects the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; Special Olympics; Community Bible Study; school groups; Girl Scouts; and Boy Scouts.

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