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Sensory path at Davis Elementary will help students activate their brains

Sensory path coming to Davis

Davis Elementary School Vice Principal Chris Plucker, left, discusses sensory path design opinions with College Place Public Schools psychologist Kelly Fitzgerald, who, according to Plucker, “has been the real expert behind the project from the beginning.”

COLLEGE PLACE — Experts, including parents, agree that young students do best with plenty of activity during the school day to offset desk time.

Recess and physical education classes play an important role in brain and social development, particularly in the lower grades, according to research and every teacher ever.

Officials at Davis Elementary School are working to do their part to ensure children in the College Place School District have more chances to combine academics with movement during the school day.

On Friday, Vice Principal Chris Plucker announced a fundraiser to help Davis install a “sensory path” in the building that houses 711 students in kindergarten through fifth-grade.

Sensory paths — in this case, an indoor version — can take different forms, but many involve a series of colorful vinyl decals encouraging users to follow a series of instructions on walls and floor going down a hallway.

The path length is only limited by physical space.

Pathway activities can include hopping, skipping and balancing on one foot, tactile exploration of different surfaces, a spot for wall push ups, crab crawls and solving simple math problems.

Each component is designed to promote learning, stress relief and whole-body movement, Plucker said.

“There is a lot of research in support of movement and its importance in brain development and learning, and at Davis, we would like to offer more for our kids in meeting this need.”

While the new sensory path will be for everyone at Davis, it will specifically provide activities and movements for students who struggle to focus for long periods of time in the classroom, he said.

Every donation toward the $1,500 cost also allows for a vote on the final design, Plucker said.

The school’s budget could probably absorb the cost of the needed materials, but raising the money this way helps introduce the concept and gain community and parent engagement, he said.

Davis officials have narrowed down multiple potential designs to two, and from here it will truly be a path determined by the people.

While Plucker is counting on Davis families to chip in and vote, anyone can stop at the school’s office and lobby area to look over the designs and vote with their wallet.

There is also an online donation option at ubne.ws/sensorypath.

Administrators hope to have the project fully funded by late February, Plucker said.

Any extra money brought in will be used to add to the sensory path or create another one at another College Place school, officials said.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 509-526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.