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Scout Gold Award Winner Develops Highland Sensory Room

by Chris Stodor

The new Senses Room at Highland High School provides students with a private place where they can relax and unwind after a tried-and-true experience, or simply unwind when life gets out of hand this school year.

The Sensory Room at Highland High School has large sofas, comfortable throws, craft lockers, and a large bulletin board displaying a variety of mental health resources.

The Sensory Room at Highland High School was developed by Ava Latham of Hinckley and her project received Girl Scout’s highest honor, the Gold Award. Latham, now a nursing student at Kent State University who has been a Girl Scout since she was in second grade, said she came up with the idea of ​​the sensory room in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

She said, “The idea of ​​the sensory room came to me in my second year of high school with the spread of the Corona virus and the world seemed to have stopped.” “I started talking about it with my principals in my freshman year after hearing about another sensory room that parents put up at a nearby high school and used it somewhat as the basis for my project.”

Latham said the room’s core elements are to provide a soft-lit space that is quiet and relaxing. In the middle of the room there is an area with large sofas and many pillows and throws. Another area of ​​the room contains yoga cards and instructions on different ways to meditate.

“Along the walls there are lockers with things like stress balls and little relaxation toys,” Ava said. “Other cabinets hold items like pencils, pens, crayons, and small crafts tools.”

An important element of the room is a large bulletin board containing mental health resources – from books to read and community resources to the names of area health professionals who specialize in mental health.

Ava said the room was ready for use by students shortly after the winter break during the 2021-2022 school year.

Highland Highland School Counselor Carolyn Culpo said the sensory room has been a great resource for students.

“As counselors, we work with students to develop coping skills, and the sensory room is a place where students can apply these skills,” she said. “We also give students small groups where they can talk about the pressures they are facing.”

Latham said she received positive feedback as well, which she received many from other students while she was still at Highland High School.

“My fellow students told me it worked wonders for them,” she said. “It’s a place where they can come and get away from things for a while, take a break and relieve stress.”

During his four years at Highland, Latham was involved in a peer leadership group and also served as a member of the Student Council. She was also a cheerleader and a member of the school’s Sparkle, a cheerleading group for disabled students, which as part of it helped them learn some cheer in order to participate with fans at select sporting events. ∞

Featured Image: Now a nursing student in Kent State, who resides in Hinckley, Ava Latham, she shared with The Register how she developed the Sensory Room during her final year at Highland High School. Latham was awarded the Boy Scouts’ highest honor, the Gold Award, for the project. Pictures have been sent