Photo courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Photo courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Sensory toys soothe kids, teens in city’s rec centers

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is implementing sensory toys to soothe kids and teens who participate in many of its recreation centers programs.

The Park Board’s Rec Plus school-age childcare program first used the toys as part of a trial run at three sites last summer. The toys, which are part of “calming boxes,” are meant to aid children and distract them from causes of stress.

The boxes or kits contain items that engage children through touch, sight and other senses. The board said the sensory stimulation helps kids regulate their emotions and bodies during times of stress. The kits include a fiber optic lamp, Thinking Putty and Floam, among other objects. The board also encourages onsite staff to add their own items — things like Rubik’s Cubes, books and playing cards.

After the trial run, the board has now added calming boxes to all Rec Plus sites — such as recreation centers in the Lynnhurst, Armatage and Kenwood neighborhoods — and recreation centers with Teen Teamworks programming. A few preschool programs run through city rec centers also have the kits.