Sensory Day provides new perspective on art

Visually impaired children connected with SMU music therapy students and Delta Gamma sorority volunteers at Meadows Museum’s second annual Sensory Day Saturday.

The day was significant for SMU Delta Gamma students, as they gave back to their sorority’s chosen philanthropy: Service for Sight. For Delta Gamma sophomore Allison Anaya, giving back held a personal connection, as her brother has a visual impairment. Anaya said the event was a great opportunity to reach out to the children and help them connect with the wider community.

“It’s fun to see them having so much fun feeling all these textures and painting,” Anaya said.

The Museum partnered with Texas Health and Human Services’ Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development program to host approximately 30 families in a range of sensory stimulating activities. Music and textile-based activities brought the art to life and allowed the visually impaired children to experience art through other sensory avenues.

Museum representative Kayle Patton said the day served a dual purpose, providing both fun and new learning experiences for the children.

“They are practicing decision-making, socializing and navigating a new environment,” Patton said.

Patton said the day provided connections not only for the children but also for the museum as an entity in the wider community.

“It’s great for us to connect with all those student groups on campus,” Patton said. “It’s also great for us to show these families that the museum is somewhere they can come and enjoy the art just in a different way.”

Patton also explained that Meadows Museum is committed to making its art a positive and accessible experience for all through events such as sensory day.

“It kind of gets our name out there in different communities and says, ‘This place is for you,’” Patton said.

The day benefited not only the children and families; it also provided an environment for SMU music therapy students to hone their skills and work with a variety of patients.

Student Rachel Gan said music is a great way to learn because all the different instruments create a mix of auditory and tactile experiences. Gan is the SMU Association of Music Therapy (SAMT) president.

Gan said learning on the go gave them the opportunity to think on their feet and be creative as they put together interventions best suited for the various groups.

“What are their needs? What are they going to like? And how can we put it all together into an intervention that’s going to be fun and helpful for them?” Gan said.

Meadows Museum will again partner with Texas Health and Human Services’ Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program to host the event next year.

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