The Calming Cove: A remedy for sensory distress

by | Jun 22, 2018 | Other News

Some children get overwhelmed when exposed to certain sensory experiences and react with behavior that’s not always conducive to social situations. Now, there’s a solution for these children on the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus. Called the Calming Cove, this new state-of-the-art room is designed to be just as its name describes…a calming place for kids in sensory distress.

Made possible by generous donations from Amy Markman Goldberg and Lisa Stein and Mark Delevie, the Calming Cove is modeled after sensory rooms that are becoming widespread in school and child care settings. These rooms are proving to be beneficial to children who are easily overcome by their sensory surroundings and who might need a break from stimulations and distractions.

“The Calming Cove is designed as a nurturing space for children in a sensory supportive, non-restrictive environment,” says Michelle Fenley, LCSW of Jewish Family Service of Tidewater. She says she believes this room will “promote the academic, emotional, and social successes of many children.”

To create this stress-free and relaxed environment, the Calming Cove is low lit with an option for projections on the ceiling and walls. A colorful fiber optic curtain, along with a lit bubble tube adds to the peaceful lighting. Pleasant aromatherapy scents and soothing music combine to produce a serene setting. In addition, textured wall objects, weighted blankets and animals, and other hand-held toys with varying surfaces, are available for a child to hold, play with, throw, or hug.

Amy Goldberg says that this endeavor was important for her to be a part of because of her social work background and the fact that she has always had an affinity to helping children. Goldberg says she is excited to help fund this project and is “pleased that Tidewater’s Jewish community is on the side of forward thinking.”

Lisa Stein Delevie and Mark Delevie say they recall a time when the JCC was one of the only safe, fun environments in the community. “Having a new space that will help a child in need experience a space that is not just unique and fun, but also safe to express his or her self is very important,” says Stein Delevie.

Children enrolled in The Strelitz Early Childhood Center and the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater will have an opportunity to experience the Calming Cove when necessary, and campers at Jcamp, including Yachad campers, (a program that promotes inclusion of kids with special needs into the general summer camp), will be the first to benefit from the room. A fun-filled day of camp may initiate some challenges, but the safe environment of the Calming Cove will allow a place for children to decompress and relax both mind and body.

“If this room will help one child, it’s great and well worth it—but hopefully this will help many children,” says Goldberg. The Delevies echo Goldberg’s sentiments, noting that tolerance is a lesson worth learning and having an inclusive environment for everyone is such an important aspect for them.

“I am excited to see all of the ways the Calming Cove will help the children on the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus access, enjoy, and succeed at the many wonderful children and family programs and events offered,” says Fenley.

“I was thrilled when I heard about the Calming Cove and how the children of our community were going to benefit from its creation and existence,” says John Strelitz UJFT president. “I am so proud of our professionals for taking the initiative in this area. I am also extremely proud of the simple, but consistently honorable characteristic and actions of our community as exemplified by Amy, Lisa, and Mark and that is that when there is a need, people step up to meet it. I am honored and grateful.”