ST. MARY PARISH, LA (KLFY) — In St. Mary Parish, a new sensory room at the parish courthouse has opened, making things a little more comfortable for children waiting to go to court.
This is now the second sensory room for children in the state and the first one south of Alexandria. Lieutenant Oscar West with the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office and Amanda Landry with CASA of the 16th Judicial District helped make this possible. They are happy it is finally here and hope it makes a huge impact moving forward.
“Court could sometimes be a very scary place, and one of the main concepts is felt safety,” said West.
The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office recently received a grant of $150,000 to focus on the school and court systems for at risk youth in the parish. The sensory room being added is one example of the team’s efforts so far.
“So we have something for everybody. We have a calm down corner with our little emotional support animals. We have some sensory activities for them to get off some of that extra energy. We also have a creative area to let the kids express themselves however they feel comfortable,” said Landry.
The big focus for this room is to help children deal with their emotions in a stressful situation like being at court or other outside circumstances.
“What we’re really trying to do is break the cycle because children are what they learn. If we don’t institute other ways to handle your emotions and we don’t teach them alternate ways to handle their emotions, they’re not going to know how to handle their emotions,” said Landry.
Both Landry and Lieutenant West say they hope the success of the room can spread to other courthouses in the 16th judicial district like Iberia and St. Martin Parish.
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