New multi-sensory space at Montreal North school aims to help students relieve stress

Click to play video: 'Adult education centre inaugurates first multi-sensory room'
Adult education centre inaugurates first multi-sensory room
WATCH: The Galileo Adult Education Centre in Montreal North, has a new resource that is the first of its kind in the adult sector. Global's Phil Carpenter explains. – Jan 22, 2020

Galileo Adult Education Centre has a new resource that school administrators say is the first of its kind in the English Montreal School Board adult sector.

“Well, it’s called a a snozzle room, but our students named it the ‘snuggle room,'” principal Martina Schiavone told Global News.

It’s a multi-sensory space created primarily for special needs students at the school to help them relieve stress.

According to school staff, special needs students sometimes suffer from anxiety or other challenges that can make them feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Therefore, a conventional classroom might not be suitable for them, former teacher Vanessa Grimaldi of the No Better You foundation explained to Global News during the opening of the space.

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“Because [in] a traditional classroom there are so many different adaptations that we need to make to it in order for the students to feel comfortable,” she explained.

The multi-sensory room, she said, is supposed to make them feel better by giving them a break from spaces or situations that stress them out.

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The room has a number of tools to help do that, like toys, music, specific odours, special lights, and even vibrating pillows.

“Well, these pillows are really comfortable,” said student David Leblanc.  “Like, I just lie on them today.  It’s really comfortable.”

Some students even use it to nap. But there’s a time limit to using the room.

“Because you’re re-energizing yourself,” Schiavone stressed.  “It’s not the spa.  It’s a one per cent spa.”

Students have scheduled 30-minute blocks, but any one of them can use the room if they need to, under supervision.

School officials say the space cost almost $24,000 and took two years to build.  Funds were donated, with most of it coming from from Grimaldi’s foundation.

The Italians of Montreal and Friends association and Chez Ma Tante restaurant also contributed.

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Though the room was designed for the special needs students, staff say they use it, too.

“Yep,” Schiavone laughed.  “I had to test it out.  We all had to test it out.”

She pointed out that it is open to the entire school and added that similar spaces should be commonplace in other workplaces.

“Because the mental illness is a factor,” she noted, “we’re talking more and more about mental illness, depression, anxiety, stress.”

At the very least, she hopes other schools will follow in their footsteps.

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