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Multi-Sensory room helping Hibbing High School students find a safe space

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HIBBING,MN-- When students with learning disabilities are having a tough time in class, sometimes they just need a break.

"A special education teacher and I were talking about ways we could help curb behaviors in some of the students that were having rough days and the classroom just wasn't meeting that need," says Special Education Director Nathan Lutzka.

After identifying the issue in their school, educators from Hibbing High School created the new multi-sensory room.

The sensory room offers students sounds, lights, and vibrations that can be changed based on a child's preference to help create a controlled environment.

Special education teacher Melissa Crowe who has brought several students in to use the room, says it is making a positive difference.

"I like that I can program it to my phone, where I can find a type of music they like better. It's very diverse, we can do multiple things with it."

Initially, the room was going to be used for students on the autism spectrum.

But throughout the planning process school leaders saw an opportunity to help students dealing with mental health issues as well.

Lutzka says, "When I thought of a sensory room, I thought of just kids on the spectrum. But then as I looked into it more, there's benefits for a wide range of student needs. If there having some issues at home and it comes here, or they're having some issues with anxiety or depression."

District leaders hope the new innovative room will bring their 100-year-old school into the 21st century.

"There's a lot of history, we try to keep it to the way it looked in the early 20's. But we also have to acknowledge that schools have to change with the kids needs," says Lutzka.

Educators add, they hope the sensory room will help create a more positive learning experience for everyone.

Crowe says,"By allowing them to come into this room,and get the sensory input they need. Their peers can see them in a whole different light. They are not stressed out, they're not anxious."

Crowe says the room was designed for students but everyone can benefit from using it,"Even as adults we have sensory issues, you don't have to have a labeled disability."

District officials have created guidelines for everyone in the school to follow when using the room.

Lutzka says plans to put a multi-sensory room in the other schools in Hibbing is already underway

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Emma Quinn

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