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Local News

University of St. Francis opens sensory room to help students with stress

University of St. Francis students have a new option for relieving stress thanks to the school’s Schmitt Scholars, who recently opened a sensory room at the school’s main campus in Joliet.
University of St. Francis students have a new option for relieving stress thanks to the school’s Schmitt Scholars, who recently opened a sensory room at the school’s main campus in Joliet.

Students at the University of St. Francis have a new option for relieving stress thanks to the school's Schmitt Scholars, who recently opened a sensory room at the school's main campus in Joliet.

The room is located on the third floor of the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Library and offers students and employees a calming place to unwind and refocus, according to a news release.

The development of a sensory room began two years ago following an experience one of the group's members, USF nursing student Madelyn Rogge, had while working at a summer camp. The idea eventually evolved into her senior service project.

She explained how at the camp, they used "a few touch, smell, see and hear activities" in a room, including pasta noodles to sort, pillows of all textures and foam puzzles.

"The Schmitt Scholars figured that if we could create a safe space for USF students to use their senses and refocus their thoughts, then we could potentially decrease the pressure college students put on themselves,” Rogge said in the release.

USF nursing student Jada Sims added that the room can benefit both students and employees who need a break from the stress of college for a few minutes.

"Taking this break would ultimately make USF students better by having an increase in concentration, among other benefits," Sims said in the release. "We believed that everyone, including employees, could benefit from a space that is created for the purpose of decreasing stress and anxiety through low-stimulus activities such as coloring."

Since USF opened the sensory room, the school said it's received "a wealth of positive feedback." The Schmitt Scholars also administered a survey to collect feedback on the new space, and responses included several positive comments about the room's lighting and impact, according to the release.

The sensory room is open every Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. The room is closed on Saturdays.

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