CBS 42

Talladega County Schools unveil WALI, school bus converted to sensory room

TALLADEGA COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Over the past few years, schools across the country have started installing sensory rooms – a space where students with disabilities can escape when overwhelmed by the school day.

The Talladega County Board of Education (TCBOE) unveiled their latest unique sensory room, converted from a retired school bus. Faculty and the TCBOE community painted, designed and installed the proper technology and devices into the bus for their newest sensory space.

WALI was designed to include fidget boards and similar devices. Devices like these are known to quell anxieties, especially among the disables community.

“We wanted a mobile sensory room that we could bring to all 17 schools into our county,” Special Education Coordinator with TCBOE, Michelle Head said. “Kids can come onto the bus, help them relax, help them focus and prepare their minds for learning.”

The sensory room, called WALI, will stay at each of the 17 schools for two weeks.

“We’ve had nothing but positive outcomes with this,” Special Education Teacher at B.B. Comer Elementary, Allie Marques, said. “We have students who are minimally verbal. I never heard any of these children say bus before. He got to come out to WALI. When we went back to the classroom, he pointed at the door and said, ‘bus!'”

Special education teachers within Talladega County Schools tell CBS 42 that WALI has led to surprising growth in participating students.

WALI started as a vision of B.B. Comer Elementary School staff member Jason Jacks who has a child with autism. From there, he and his fellow TCBOE community then designed, painted and assembled WALI.