Sensory walks at schools give students an outdoor activity

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Rhonda Crawford, the president of the Bissell Elementary School PTA, kneels next to the start of one of the sensory walks in the parking lot of Twinsburg High School that Crawford and Bissell PTA volunteer coordinator Lisa Oddo made possible.

TWINSBURG -- To ensure that Twinsburg's younger students could attend classes five days a week while maintaining 6feet social distancing, the district sent many of its pupils to other buildings. Wilcox Primary still taught preschool and kindergarten, but first-graders were sent to Samuel Bissell Elementary, and the high school became the school for the second-  through sixth-graders.

However, one issue was finding activities, particularly outdoors, for these younger students going to a school building designed for their much older peers. Rhonda Crawford, the PTA president at Bissell, along with other volunteers, worked to create sensory walks at the high school. These walks were created in November in three different parking lots at the high school. Plans are in the works to do similar walks at Wilcox Primary and Bissell Elementary schools in the near future. Crawford said the high school's cheerleading team will help in painting the sensory walks at the primary and elementary schools.

Crawford said the painted walks had designations where children were encouraged to do an activity.

"We created it with the pandemic in mind," Crawford said. "They didn't have a playground area at the high school, so there was nothing for the kids to do when they went outside. We thought it was really important to supply something for the kids."

The effort cost about $3,000, which included the paints and stencils, Crawford said. The money came from leftover funds from a COVID-19 grant used to buy extra fruit for students during the summer months. So permission was granted to apply the money toward the sensory walks, which were painted by groups of volunteers. Two parking lots were finished in one day,while the volunteer coordinator at the PTA finished the remaining the following day.

"The kids love them," Crawford said. "The teachers were so excited, it gave them a space to give them something to do. The gym teachers were able to utilize them as well. The kids were so excited to see the different colors. They can go outside and actually do something."

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com

Leap frog is one of the exercises for children to do on the sensory walks in the parking lot of Twinsburg High School.
Children are encouraged to tiptoe along this ribbon painted on the parking lot in one of the sensory walks at Twinsburg High School.