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Foundation Grant Funds Engaging Sensory Paths at Elementary School

Dec. 8, 2021 

Children use green sensory path in hallway It is not unusual to find students (or staff members) hopping, twisting and spinning - or even pushing on walls -  as they make their way these days around Sycamore Trails Elementary School in Bartlett. 

Moving from place to place has become much more interesting, thanks to the newly installed sensory paths and push walls in the school’s hallways. 

Sensory paths offer guided markings (with decals or paint) on floors and/or walls. The goal is to help students burn off energy, and help those with sensory issues to refocus anger or frustration.

“It is super fun to watch the kids as they are passing by,” said Mary Slowinski, a long-term substitute teacher at Sycamore Trails, and the staff member who applied for a grant from the U-46 Educational Foundation that led to the paths being installed. “I look down the hallway and see the kids frog-jumping or hopscotching. It just engages them in another way.”

During the U-46 Thanksgiving holiday break, custodians at Sycamore Trails worked to strip the wax from hallway floors and apply the sensory paths’ decals. Then six new coats of wax were applied over the decals to keep them durable, Slowinski said.

Helping students keep active is one of the main reasons Slowinski, who now teaches physical education, wanted the paths installed. She said that sensory paths also benefit students in the Modified Learning Program.

“They may need a ‘brain break.’ They may need a place to gather themselves,” Slowinski said. “The benefits of a sensory path go on and on.”

Children lined up in hallway for sensory path

Slowinski says that she and other district staff continue to think of ways to help U-46 students stay active throughout the school day.  

“Using these paths is a great place to start,” she said.

Wall with labels that students can push