Isabel Pitstick from Thousand Oaks has recently completed her Gold Award with her project, Mountain Meadows Sensory Room. She noticed the lack of funding for special needs departments at local school districts, and that fundraising efforts were usually used for other purposes.
Isabel sought out to address the need of students in special education to have a space to decompress and properly handle their emotions. The special education department at Mountain Meadows Elementary School in Moorpark, California, had expressed a need for a sensory room for quite some time, but they never had the funding to make it possible.
Through a GoFundMe web page that she created and a donation from the Knights of Columbus, a benefit society in Simi Valley, Isabel raised over $1900 to purchase equipment and decorations for the room. The room was divided into two sections, one of which included equipment for students to work out feelings of anger or frustration with a punching bag, exercise ropes, a crash pad, and Velcro on the walls to tear off. The other section was designed for students to relax with a fort, bean bags, massage chair, body glove, lights, and lava lamps. In the center of the room Isabel created an obstacle course where the whole class can participate and burn off energy.
“I decided to do this project because I wanted to benefit kids, specifically those with special needs,” says Isabel. “By providing these kids with this specific equipment, it allows them to concentrate and focus better in their class. Additionally, the special needs students now have a location to deal with their emotions without distracting other students in a general education classroom. ”
Including the time it took to research, recruit donors, apply for grants, purchase equipment, paint and set up the room, her project took over 60 hours total to complete.
“Not only does this project address the specific needs of the special education department at Mountain Meadow, my fundraising efforts involved outreach to the community to explain what a sensory room is and why it is important to the school and the community,” she says. “This project seeks to inform people about the lack of funding for the special education departments at our local schools. Not many people I met with were aware of the importance of a sensory room for the special need kids and the impact it can have.”
The equipment that Isabel purchased for the Mountain Meadows Sensory Room is specifically designed for heavy usage, and she anticipates that it will last for many years to come.
“As a result of this project I have gained communication, leadership, and organization skills,” says Isabel. “This project has taught me many valuable skills that I will use for the rest of my life. I have gained a sense of self and experienced the rewarding feeling of giving back to my community. I learned that with hard work, any task is conquerable with the right mindset and effort.”
Isabel is a member of Troop 60228 and a Junior at Westlake High School. If you are interested in learning about the Gold Award, you can find more information here!