New sensory room opens at Columbiana Middle School

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – A new sensory room has opened at Columbiana Middle School.

Miss University of Alabama 2020 Isabella Powell, of Calera, spearheaded a project to revamp the school’s existing sensory room to better accommodate the students who utilize it.

“Columbiana Middle did have a sensory room, but it had very little sensory tools in it due to lack of funding available,” Powell said. “The transformation of this room included painting the walls, laying down flooring, hanging protective padding on the walls, hanging alternate lighting and building sensory tools used inside of the room.”

Powell’s platform through the Miss America Organization is building sensory rooms for children with special needs.

She started at Calera Intermediate School, where her brother, David, is a student, and went on to create sensory rooms at Pinecrest Elementary, Indian Valley Elementary, Shelby Elementary and Elvin Hill Elementary.

CMS was her seventh sensory room to complete.

“When speaking with some community members from my church in Columbiana, I was asked to come and speak with Kiwanis Club of Columbiana,” Powell said. “They expressed interest in making a contribution to help us build another sensory room around Columbiana. Upon speaking with them, they decided to donate $3,000 toward the creation of a new sensory room at Columbiana Middle School. Once the supplies came in, Kiwanis Club of Columbiana, along with other community members, helped us construct the sensory room in one week.”

According to Powell, one out of every six children is listed as having Sensory Processing Disorder, a specific brain disorder in which information is filtered into the brain but is not organized properly.

“This is what causes inappropriate reactions in students. This disorder is mainly found in children diagnosed with some type of special need,” Powell said. “Scientifically, when the student is able to use the sensory room, their cortisol levels are lowered. Therefore, the use of the sensory room helps students better know how to gain control of their actions.”

As Miss University of Alabama, Powell plans to create a sensory room on the UA campus for college students.

In addition, she plans to build one in the Auburn area, along with several more in Tuscaloosa and Chambers counties.