It’s so gratifying when CHD receives a generous grant that results in positive outcomes quickly.
Recently, funding from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts enabled CHD to equip four Caring Together group homes with therapeutic materials for a Sensory Space, which helps the teen-aged girls who live there to de-escalate emotionally. The materials now available to them, such as weighted blankets, help give them a sense of calm and control. Especially for youths who experienced trauma caused by abuse and are struggling with a host of emotional and mental health issues, the ability to control their emotions is central to healing.
CHD’s Caring Together group home in Holyoke is one of the programs funded with the Community Foundation grant. Now therapeutic materials are neatly organized in the Sensory Space, readily available to those who want them. Program Director Heidi Walter said the kids started to use them right away. She shared this story involving a 17 year old girl.
According to Walter, each day when the girl arrived “home” from school at Caring Together, she went right to the Sensory Space, took a weighted blanket and a stuffed turtle, then curled up tight and rested for about half an hour to de-escalate from the stresses of her day. Usually she just rested peacefully, although sometimes she would nod off to sleep. This process of de-escalation—aided by the therapeutic materials in the Sensory Space—allowed her to better control her emotions so she could focus on school work and improve her interpersonal relationships.
This 17-year-old girl has now left the group family and returned home to live with her biological mother. That was a huge accomplishment for her, and a large contributing factor was being able to control her emotions. The Community Foundation grant helped make that important life transition possible.
Moving forward, one measure of success with CHD group home Sensory Spaces will be decreased levels of stress and fewer incidents of poor self-regulation by the program participants. Already, positive results like these are happening and the therapeutic materials now available to our participants contribute meaningfully to those outcomes.
The success of Sensory Rooms is one more example that proves one of CHD’s core principles: community support matters.