First Accessible Multi-Sensory Environment Close to Becoming a Reality in Charlotte

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Easter Seals UCP, a nonprofit that provides support, care and hope to children and adults living with disabilities and mental health challenges, in partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital has secured more than 85 percent of the funding needed to build a multi-sensory environment (MSE) in Charlotte for children with multi-sensory disorders. Easter Seals UCP is hoping to raise the rest of the funds needed through donations from the community. This will be the first MSE in Charlotte open to the public and will be located at the Easter Seals UCP Children’s Center (716 Marsh Road, Charlotte, NC 28209).According to a study by the Sensory Processing Disordered Foundation, 1 in every 6 children experiences sensory symptoms that affect everyday life functions. Sensory stimulation is the sole means to engage with the world and is fundamental to survival, well-being, growth and development.Thanks to the generosity of lead donors* the organization has raised $240,000 to ensure the MSE becomes a reality for so many young children needing help with sensory integration therapy. Easter Seals UCP is only $60,000 away from fully funding the renovation costs and the first three years of operation. “In addition to seeing the great need for an accessible multi-sensory environment here in Charlotte, it’s also very personal to me,” said MSE capital campaign chair, Richard Worrell. “My seven year old son was born with a rare birth defect that presents him with significant developmental challenges. This MSE will give him a calming place to go that allows him to focus without overstimulation. I am grateful to everyone who has already donated to this effort and with some additional help from the community we know that this facility will make a positive development impact on many kids.”
The purpose of a multi-sensory environment room is to provide stimulating activities for children to cope with their sensory issues. The space is designed to stimulate the senses with light, sound, touch, smell or taste. Multi-sensory environments can improve the health and quality of life of individuals with disabilities by improving brain activity.Many children with autism or other special needs or sense impairments have trouble processing one or more senses, such as sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. A typically developing child may also experience sensory issues. Without appropriate stimulation, individuals may resort to self-injury, anger, or repetitive behavior as a substitute. This type of behavior interferes with daily living. An MSE provides an area that offers individuals an opportunity to control, manipulate, intensify, or reduce stimulation within a safe environment.
“We’ve spent a lot of time studying the benefits of multi-sensory environments, said Peg Smith, program manager for Early Childhood and Family Services program manager for Easter Seals UCP. “The research shows that children with mild to significant sensory impairments benefit tremendously from these environments through behavior improvement. We are incredibly grateful to all of the support we have already received to make this a reality for the Charlotte community and appreciate the support to help us raise the remaining funds needed. Our goal is to have the MSE open to the community by the end of the year.”
There are many community multi-sensory environments across the country and the numbers continue to grow due to the developmental improvements many children are experiencing when they have the opportunity to stimulate senses in a manner that is soothing and calming.
Donations to the Easter Seals UCP multi-sensory environment can be made online at www.MSECampaign.eventbrite.com or a check designated to the Easter Seals UCP MSE campaign can be mailed to Easter Seals UCP, 6135 Park South Drive, Suite 350, Charlotte, NC 28210.
*To date, lead donors include the Carolinas HealthCare Foundation, Leon Levine Foundation, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation, Hendrick BMW/Mini, Humana, Rick and Sharon Anicetti, Ann and Hooper Hardison, Cary Pickard, R. David and Pamela Sprinkle, Michael Sprinkle, D. Phelps and Katherine Sprinkle, Joshua and Ellen Thomas, Richard and Alanna Worrell and James and Nancy Worrell.
About Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia
Easter Seals UCP is a lifelong partner to people managing disabilities and mental health challenges. Established in 1945, our nonprofit serves more than 20,000 individuals and their families across North Carolina and Virginia through an array of community-based services and solutions. We light the runway, helping people find their own voices, make their own choices, and discover innovative solutions to their challenges. For more information on Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia, please visit www.eastersealsucp.com.

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