Perry Meridian senior builds sensory room at elementary school for Eagle Scout project

Kevin Waggoner Jr. built a sensory room at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School. (WTHR)
Eagle Scout Builds Sensory Room
Eagle Scout builds sensory room

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — A brand new sensory room for children with special needs welcomes students at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School when classes start Wednesday in Perry Township.

Perry Meridian High School senior Kevin Waggoner II raised money and built the room for his Eagle Scout project.

Back in the spring, Waggoner raised $3,500 in about two weeks for the project. His goal for the GoFundMe account was $3,000.

"It provides the kids something that they cannot get in a traditional classroom setting,” said Waggoner. “The kinds of things that you have in this room really focuses on the sensory needs of the children."

Waggoner spent summer break converting a former computer lab at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School into a sensory room, dedicated to his late cousin, Luca Berger, who had special needs.

"It meant a lot to him for this to be useful for the students,” said Brooke McDonald, the school’s occupational therapist. “He talked to me all the time on how do we find something that can benefit them. It wasn't just, 'Let's get my project done. Here are my pieces.' If I said, 'How about?' and we added another thing, he jumped on board."

Kevin Waggoner Jr. built a sensory room as part of his Eagle Scout project. (WTHR)

Waggoner originally wanted to build a playground but found the cost to be too high. McDonald advised Waggoner that a sensory room would be more feasible and get more use.

She helped him design the room for any student, but especially those with cognitive, physical or attention deficits. A poster on the room wall lists four mood zones: blue, green, yellow and red.

"They can identify what feeling they have and associate that with different areas of the room where that they can go in and do different things in that area,” said Waggoner.

Someone in the yellow zone might want to work out frustration in the physical motor area by jumping on the trampoline, swinging the ropes or going through the obstacle course.

"You goal is to get to the green zone,” said McDonald. “You're good to go. You're focused, happy, ready to learn. I can listen to my teacher, complete my work and be a good friend."

There are a few wobble stools in the room, perfect for the students who just can't sit still and maybe just need to rock back and forth a little to be able to focus on their class work.

"Some children, while they come in for activities, some come in for a break,” said McDonald. “So, they may need less stimulation. So, we will turn down the lights. It makes this space a much smaller, calming environment."

"There's LED light strips under here,” said Waggoner, pointing out a glowing light tabletop. “They can build blocks and stuff on them and it illuminates really nicely."

Interactive light displays also stand out in the dark.

The school added new focus areas in the hallways throughout the building. But the large, dedicated sensory room is the first of its kind in Perry Township.

"I hope to come in here next week and see some of the kids playing around in the room,” said Waggoner, who is a Life scout in Troop 183.