Cortland, NY (WSYR-TV) — Young students at the Rucker Center develop and expand their knowledge through vibrant colors, shapes, and patterns on floors and walls.
The Rucker Center provides a variety of intensity-based support services to individuals with disabilities and their families in Tompkins, Cortland, and Tioga counties.
At the Center in Cortland, sensory pathways help unblock disabled preschoolers, thanks to a partnership with SUNY Cortland.
Thirty-four members of the SUNY Cortland baseball team and softball sports club team spent four hours installing various sensory pathways created by Fit and Fun Playscapes. Fit and Fun Playscapes is a small business based in Poughkeepsie, NY that creates school supplies that promote physical and mental development.
The idea of putting sensory pathways in place came about last summer when Tim Davis, an associate professor of physical education, was teaching a class at Rucker.
Davis leads the university’s Sensory Integration/Kinesthetic (SIMS) Center for Motor Exploration and is responsible for teaching SUNY Cortland students about children with disabilities.
This led Brian Rozewski, director of preschool programs at Racker, to secure about $11,000 in grants for the project.
Sensory pathways offer a comprehensive approach to improving basic motor skills at a young age. Through the artwork, children can jump, skip, hop, crawl, jog, and even do wall push-ups to increase their mobility.
Although the pathway was designed for children with disabilities, research continues to demonstrate the learning benefits of physical activity in daily school routines for all children.
While having fun moving through the corridors, they are engaged in various educational activities such as numbers, letters, and shapes. They don’t realize they’re seeing patterns or learning when they’re moving, but movement adds to all that learning.
BRIAN ROZEWSKI, PRESCHOOL DIRECTOR, LUCQUER CENTER, COURTLAND
There are no fixed hours per day for students to participate in sensory pathway activities. Whenever students navigate the corridors of the Rucker Center, use it as an opportunity to collaborate with staff and other students.
“All children need to move, and the vast majority of children with disabilities receive general education,” Davis explained. “So let them play with you, move with them, recognize that I move differently than you do, and that’s fine.”
Lacquer Center plans to partner with SUNY Cortland and Fit and Fun Playscapes to implement sensory pathways and stencils outdoors weather permitting. This creates a “sensory continuity” for the students.
Beginning in 2023, three SUNY Cortland graduate students qualified to teach physical education will teach physical education at the preschool level at the Cortland Center and the Ithaca Rucker Center.