ROCKLAND — A trio of occupational therapists in one local school district are raising funds to purchase a device to assist students overcome challenges and gain an education.
RSU 13 occupational therapists Kasey Drinkwater, Lauren Watts and Heather Nelson are seeking to purchase a steamroller, which would be the district’s fourth.
Steamrollers have several benefits for students, according to Drinkwater, including providing sensory feedback many students need, working on body awareness, strengthening certain muscle groups, strengthening shoulder stability and strengthening motor planning (the ability to conceive, plan, and carrying out a skilled, non-habitual motor act in the correct sequence from beginning to end) and processing.
In occupational therapy, the goal is to provide students the tools and strategies to help them integrate sensory processing systems and focus on their academics, Drinkwater said.
“Imagine trying to focus and learn when the clothes on your body feel too scratchy, the hum of the lights is too loud, the nonstop chatter in your brain won't stop, and you just can't stop wiggling,” she said.
The district currently has one streamroller at South School in Rockland for the entire campus including three Intensive Support Program (ISP) classrooms, one at Oceanside High School in the life skills program and one at Thomaston Grammar School.
“We have students that use [the steamroller] and we immediately see a change in their anxiety and regulation levels, a lot of them even have an audible ‘sigh’ as they work their way through it,” said Drinkwater. “Many will request to use it independently now before coming to a non-preferred task, knowing that it will help them be in a better place to focus and learn.”
With six schools in the district, Drinkwater noted it would be beneficial to have one on each campus, particularly at each of the elementary schools (South, Thomaston Grammar, Ash Point Community and Cushing Community).
“We [...] have seen an improvement in our students being able to return to academic or non-preferred tasks after using the Steamroller,” said Drinkwater. “[The students] unknowingly teach our larger student body about inclusion, acceptance, and empathy. They are an integral part of our school system and highly deserving of every tool we can give them to continue their success.”
The fundraiser is being held through DonorsChoose and has a total project cost of $842.59. Donations to the campaign can be made by clicking here.
Reach George Harvey at: firstname.lastname@example.org.