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Calming rooms available at Snyder County Court, Children and Youth

Daily Item - 11/28/2023

Nov. 24—Specially designed rooms for anxious or overstimulated children are now available at the Snyder County Courthouse and Children and Youth office.

The spaces, called calming rooms, were created with a $6,000 Pennsylvania Systems of Care grant obtained following a meeting of the autism task force, said Snyder County Children and Youth Director Jennifer Napp Evans.

"The task force recognized the critical nature of creating safe spaces for individuals with trauma histories and special sensory needs, particularly in high-stress settings," said county social worker Angela O'Brien.

The two rooms are decorated with seating, toys, soft lighting and a bubble wall feature and installed by O'Brien, her husband, Chris O'Brien and their daughter, Edythe Sonder, a task force member.

"The commissioners were supportive. Joe, Adam and Chuck are meeting needs of children," Evans said of county Commissioners Joe Kantz, Adam Ewig and Chuck Steininger.

Kantz said space was available at the county courthouse in Middleburg and Children and Youth Services in Selinsgrove.

A small room in the courthouse annex near the first floor stairway leading to the courtroom was slated to be a computer room, but Kantz said it has been turned into a calming room children and staff are invited to visit.

"Our wellness committee sends out emails reminding employees" that the room is available, he said.

While the rooms were specifically created to provide a soothing environment for children with special needs as they receive county services, O'Brien said they are available to staff as well.

"We hope that by providing a space where employees can also seek support, we can convey to the entire organization that each staff member is appreciated and supported," she said.

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