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Sensory path energizes students, offers real-world work experience

Students at Goshen Lane Elementary School have a new way to recharge and re-focus during the day.

Students at Goshen Lane Elementary School have a new way to recharge and re-focus during the day.

A couple of years ago, Amy Ellis, an occupational therapist at the school, put in a request for a sensory pathway to be built at Goshen Lane.

Sensory pathways are made up of intentionally planned or guided motor movements like jumping, crawling or just breathing, that are designed to give students a brain break, Ellis explained.

“The hope is that we would engage brain and body, different parts of the brain and body, to meet different sensory needs,” she said.

The sensory pathway became more beneficial in the context of the last year that children have gone through, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellis said.

“The need after having students cooped up in front of a computer all day long at home; I think there is more and more increasing need for those students to have this outlet,” she said.

Putting the pathway together became a group effort with the help of Mike Kunselman’s engineering class and Ashley Lawson’s visual art class at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

Kunselman’s class took on the role of engineering design and layout, measuring the space and creating scale templates so that Lawson’s class could create the graphics.

“The kids have to talk back and forth and then Ashley and I work together almost as managers of our ‘employees,’ so year, it’s a great, real authentic learning experience,” Kunselman said.

When it came to the artistic design of the pathway, Lawson told 10TV that the high school students went through several designs until they got it right.

“They learned a lot about what it would be like to work in this business at a graphic design firm or as an independent designer,” she said.

The experience, which became mutually beneficial for the students getting the sensory pathway and those making it, could be one that they work on again in the future.

“They’re young, they’re inexperienced, and when someone like Amy of one of our other ‘clients’ is able or willing to give them the opportunity to do something that would otherwise just be a job left for professionals in the field – when they’re willing to trust the students – and a class like this and able to give them this opportunity, amazing things can happen,” Lawson said.