Sensory pathway guides students at Poland Union Elementary
Hallways in schools are typically just ways to get from classroom to classroom.
Still, more and more at schools like Union Elementary in Poland, are transforming into their own learning environment.
Walking down the hallway is a bit of an adventure these days at Union Elementary.
That's all part of the plan with the school's new sensory pathway.
"The sensory path; I like to look at it as a giant game board that all the kids can use," said intervention specialist Mary Hernon.
But it's a game with a real purpose.
"It's not like it used to be, even in my tenure," said Union principal Mike Masucci. "Kids come in, and they need these little breaks, and we call them sensory breaks."
"Those brain breaks are huge for us. If we have a longer, harder lesson, you can use it as maybe positive motivation to get them through the lesson. Then they can come out, do the sensory path, and really enjoy it. So it gets our blood pumping and ready to learn," said Hernon.
While obviously, the pathway can serve as a much-needed mental break for the kids over the course of the day, there's actually a variety of possible benefits.
"You can use it for kids who just have a lot of wiggles, and you just need to get the wiggles out. So they can come, and they can get some gross motor movement," said occupational therapist Donna Lambert. "You have it for children who just seem to need a little boost of energy."
"They're doing things like jumping, crossing mid-line, using upper body strength, turning in circles which is a vestibular type of thing, and having to follow pathways that are challenging to them," said physical therapist Kathy O'Shaughnessy.
So it goes well beyond just helping kids refocus. There's a little something for all of them, and they're having fun in the process, which means the novelty isn't exactly wearing off.
"It's been here for weeks and yet the enthusiasm and the interest; I think kids are doing this almost as second nature now, and it's quite entertaining to watch on the cameras as kids come down the hallway. They modify. They make it their own, which is great to see," said Masucci.
A "choose your own adventure" type of experience every time you walk down the hall.
The sensory pathway is in the most visible part of the school, located in the hallway in front of the gym right as you walk in the front doors. That way, every single student gets a chance to walk past it at some point in the day.
Masucci says he frequently sees parents hop through the pathway with their son or daughter, as well.
It's all part of a broader effort at Union Elementary. The school also introduced yoga last week, providing little experiences that add up in a big way.