Sensory path offers play with purpose at Sedge Garden Elementary School

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KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — When Sedge Garden Elementary School students return to class in late August, they will have a new teaching tool. But the teaching aid will not be in the classroom. Instead it will be outside.

Volunteers from Kernersville Wesleyan Church and Sedge Garden Elementary teachers are almost finished transforming an outdoor basketball court into a brightly painted pathway.

“Anytime you put a brush in my hand, I am all for it,” said Sedge Garden Elementary Art Teacher Bill Neagle. “I love to paint. Give me the word, and I am ready to go.”

Under a scorching hot July sun, it took the team a week to paint lavender and red footprints, a brilliant blue pond with lily pads and a green frog, and gold flowers with a purple swirl in the middle.

The pretty sight has a purpose. Educators call it a sensory path.

Fourth-grader Sarah Townsend was happy to demonstrate how to use the path. She followed the lavender and red footprints to the pond. Townsend stepped across the pond by walking on the lily pads, and when she walked across the log that leads to the flowers, she yelled, “When you are trying to balance on the log, you pretend you are trying to get across to dry land.”

Teacher and mother Jayne Townsend added to her daughter’s comment.

“It’s a great asset to our school. It increases hand-eye coordination and motor skills,” said Townsend.

Also, the new sensory path can be used to add variety to a long school day for students and teachers.

“And teachers can bring them out here and run through it and take their mind off of what they were doing and then go back in the classroom and start learning again,” Townsend said.

Sedge Garden Elementary also painted a sensory path inside.

“Actually right outside of my classroom,” Townsend explained. “We have a keyboard and cell phone where kids can practice typing with their hands and dialing their number.”

Sensory paths were first created to help students with Autism and ADHD to refocus. Educators then saw that sensory paths can help every student and adult.

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