LARGO — The Arc of Prince George’s County will soon feature a sensory room, only the second such space in the county, for their clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities to have an opportunity to interact with their environment in new ways. This project is being made possible by a $15,000 grant from the Comcast Foundation, which was announced on Jan. 2.
Robin Bracey, director of The Arc’s Bridges of Largo Center, said the space would, “enhance the sensory of the individuals.
We will have equipment installed to stimulate the touch, the taste, the sound, the smells, and we would get things such as interactive panels…it’s basically, a room for them to just relax, and use their senses in a way that we don’t use our senses.
“Because most of our individuals…are unable to speak, they use their eyes, they use their hands, to become familiar with their surroundings.
“The sensory room is a good place to improve their limitations of their movement, their vision, their hearing (and) their cognitive ability, and it lets them explore different avenues that they wouldn’t ordinarily (experience).”
The sensory room will be located in repurposed existing office space in their building, and The Arc hopes to open it in April.
“The goal of these rooms is to provide a space that’s useful and creates mobility for the people we support,” said Rob Malone, executive director of The Arc.
“We’ll have an opportunity through Comcast to invest in things that will provide the type of stimulation or the opportunity for folks to just reset and to hone their emotions, but it’s really about tapping into resources and tools to have an environment where people can kind of recharge and refocus and maximize what they bring to the table at that moment.”
The Arc serves about 2,000 people every year.
“It’s something our individuals need, and to have it here will be great,” Bracey said.
Their staff is currently researching the items they will include in there.
“This sensory room is just another piece of the whole pie,” Malone said.
“I think we want people with disabilities to have the same sense of pride, esteem, and satisfaction as any of their peers or without intellectual or developmental disabilities.
So many times either the people are serviced, or the environment they’re in, they may not feel appreciated or valued, and we’re really trying to turn the table on that, and to show them that whatever they need and how they can communicate that, we want to make sure those things are available.”
The Comcast Foundation gave a total of $265,000 to 16 nonprofit organizations in the D.C. metro area in 2017, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and the United Planning Organization.
The Arc of Prince George’s County is the only organization from Prince George’s to receive one of these grants in 2017.
They have previously received grants from the Comcast Foundation for projects, such as improving digital literacy for their clients.
“These (types of grants) make it possible for us to provide services, purchase equipment, and facilitate opportunities for our individuals that are not funded through the funds that come through (Developmental Disabilities Administration),” said Lorraine Holmes Settles, Director of Business and Resource Development for The Arc.
“When we get grants like this, it allows us to do things that none of that kind of funding can be utilized for.”