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SUNY Orange OTA Students Collaborate on Sensory Room Design for HONOR

March 12, 2024

The Middletown HONOR (Helping Others Needing Our Resources) recently sought local collaboration to transform approximately 3,000 square feet of office space into three new sensory spaces and is delighted with the results provided by SUNY Orange OTA students. 

While students in the SUNY Orange OTA program, Bernadette Tymczyszyn and Melissa Coyle created numerous  recommendations for the proposed dedicated sensory spaces in the HONOR building. After the celebratory ribbon-cutting, the SUNY Orange OTA invited HONOR executives to tour their lab and classroom space.

Discussing how the project was brought to life, SUNY Orange alumni and HONOR Executive Director Chris Molinelli shared personal ties to experiences at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital as inspiration and the state-of-the-art sensory spaces he wanted to bring to HONOR.

“We needed help. On an average night, we have 135 men, women and children,” said HONOR Chief of Staff & Strategic Initiatives Liz Schmidt.

The search brought the organization to Laura Stubecki, owner of Pediatric Occupational Therapy Solutions, who referred the project to the SUNY Orange OTA program.

“It was a wonderful opportunity and fun to shop. We focused on treating the top, middle and bottom of the spaces while offering options to stay within financial constraints. Safety was always a focus and the floor mats are Olympic standard,” alum-turned BRIDGES program instructor Tymczyszyn said. “In the end, we presented a binder with all of our recommendations.”

After working an average of five hours per day over roughly four weeks, the students submitted their work. Those suggestions resulted in a rock wall and standing activities, built-in wall activity areas, tapestry-covered lighting, weighted blankets, noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, a chalk wall, a bubble tank, and other tactile stimuli. 

“This is the first sensory space in a licensed shelter in New York,” said Molinelli, “and this unique space should be the standard.”

Future collaborations lining up for the SUNY Orange OTA include a sensory room design for Winslow Therapeutic Center--a non-profit that assists children and adults with physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges to be independent in their daily lives. 

“We are working where there is a need,” shared SUNY Orange OTA Department Chair Donna Frazier.

“These opportunities allow us and our awesome students to be creative,” said Coordinator of Academic Fieldwork Mildred Consolo-Melchionne.