Dec 18, 2023
St. Coletta's opens sea-themed area to help regulate emotions
When someone is having a tough time focusing or regulating their emotions, Psychology Director Lauren Mock will often try to engage them with a soothing walk outside.
But Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate.
So when Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Palos Heights donated $3,000 to create a sensory room and Franciscan Health’s Social Impact Partnership Program chipped in an additional $5,000, Mock stepped up to create the perfect space.
“It’s good to have a place to go when someone is having a rough time,” she said. “Walking doesn’t always work.”
Now, when someone is experiencing a sensory overload, Mock can take them for a calming swing, bounce on a breathing ball or gaze at a bubble wall.
There’s also a foam crash pad for anxiety, a mini trampoline for excess energy and a cozy, inflatable canoe that envelops whoever sits in it, creating a snug, calming place to read or relax.
Along the walls are mounted sensory panels, including a magnet maze, xylophone, rotational pieces, interlocking cogs, sequin flip fabric and LEGO station.
When the overhead light is turned off, a sensory projector reflects soft images on the ocean blue walls, creating a feeling of being on the ocean floor. Bubble lamps add to the ambience, creating a soothing glow as bubbles float to the surface and plastic fish bobble in their wake.
“I wanted to create a dark, quiet, calming room with different sensory activities to soothe,” said Mock. “Sensory rooms are designed to promote sensory modulation and decrease negative behaviors.”
The new space has been well-received by St. Coletta’s adult participants. While taking a tour of the room and exploring some of the new sensory equipment, Sue K. became mesmerized by one of the bubble tubes.
“I need one of these in my room,” she said as she watched the blue, translucent bubbles float to the top as plastic fish danced among them.