Community grant lights the way: UBC student creates a sensory-rich therapeutic space

By Wendy Chan posted on October 17th, 2016

When UBC developmental psychology student Natasha Ingeniero took a Reading Week placement at Surrey-based Options Community Services Society in 2015, she knew a bit about autism and developmental disabilities. What she didn’t know, however, was that with support from UBC’s Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), she was about to kickstart a social sustainability project that would benefit hundreds of children and their families for years to come. Another thing she couldn’t have guessed? The project would go on to inspire a similar initiative in a neighbouring city.

With support from Options and UBC’s CCEL, Natasha hatched a plan: to recreate, from the ground up, a ‘Snoezelen room’ — a controlled, multi-sensory playground of sorts for the children being served by Options’s Special Services for Children and Families (SSCF) program. These are children with autism, anxiety disorders, and developmental and physical disabilities — children who find peace and calm in the water walls, bubble tubes and LED lights of these proven therapeutic spaces. From her conversations with the staff at Options, Natasha knew there were similar offerings for families in Vancouver, but no such supports were conveniently located in the surrounding Surrey community. She also knew that the CCEL at UBC supported exactly this kind of community project through its Chapman & Innovation Grants.

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