Dallas-based Vogel Alcove, which provides childcare and therapeutic services for homeless preschool children, unveiled the new Vogel Sensory Village, a facility that will help young children recover from the traumatic effects of homelessness.
The facility, which was unveiled on Jan. 28, is the first sensory lab in Dallas-Fort Worth to provide sensory therapeutic services for homeless pre-school children. It was made possible through the generous financial support of Dallas-based Santander Consumer USA through a grant from the Santander Consumer USA Inc. Foundation.
“Children who experience homelessness are among the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Karen Hughes, President and CEO of Vogel Alcove. “The new Vogel Sensory Village provides a research-based approach to helping them overcome the physical, emotional, and mental trauma they are experiencing so that they might succeed in school and in life. We’re extremely grateful for our partners at Santander Consumer USA for helping make this facility a reality. For 35 years, Vogel Alcove has worked to transform the lives of homeless children and families, and this sensory lab continues this legacy.”
The Vogel Sensory Village provides children ages two to five with a range of therapeutic services that will help with their physical, social and emotional development. It features a range of equipment that helps children strengthen their motor skills and move their body in ways that also help grow their brain.
These resources include a rock wall, balance beams, playhouses, bouncy boards, and other specialized equipment that allow children to experience different movements, textures and sounds.
The Sensory Village also provides structured and unstructured activities that require children to develop social skills such as cooperation, esteem building and problem solving.
Each sensory session begins and ends with a mindfulness activity to help children learn to regulate their emotions to the best of their ability depending on their age or development stage.
“Santander’s investment in the Vogel Sensory Village supports children and families in alignment with our Foundation’s philanthropic pillars, which includes addressing the physical and economic mobility needs of underserved individuals,” stated Chris Pfirrman, Santander Consumer USA Chief Legal Officer and Vogel Alcove Board member. “We hope that the physical and social emotional learning the children receive will help them to be best-equipped to problem-solve and work together with their families, friends and classmates as they enter elementary school.”
In creating the new sensory lab, Vogel Alcove’s developmental and behavioral services team engaged a range of therapy service providers, toured and consulted with other sensory labs, and spoke with specialty equipment providers to ensure the sensory lab provides the most effective resources and therapeutic approach to helping children experiencing trauma.
The Vogel Sensory Village is staffed by several trained therapists, including the lab’s facilitator, Stephanie McGary, LPC, RPT, as well as a play therapist, child therapist and occupational and physical therapists.
“We know that 90% of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of five. The trauma of homelessness disrupts a child’s critical wiring of the brain, which can create life-long challenges for them,” said Alicia Mahlow, Director of Developmental and Mental Health Services at Vogel Alcove. “The Vogel Sensory Village, in addition to the other services we provide, can make a tremendous and lasting difference for the children we serve.”