Sensory Beans is a family facilitated, open-play sensory gym that provides a clean, safe, secure, indoor, sensory rich environment for children of all ages and abilities.
In 2012, our 19 month old Ethan was diagnosed with Autism. The diagnosis came wit a feeling of fear, isolation and confusion. We did not know anyone who had been on this journey, and did not know what his future would bring. We did know that we wanted him to have a place to go where he was accepted for his abilities and not judged or excluded because of his inabilities. As parents, we needed a place where we could watch our child play while we connected with other families experiencing the same special needs journey. Since the addition of his brother James, it’s been an even bigger challenge finding an inclusive environment where they both can play together.
In 2015, we were incorporate and began fundraising. In 2017, we met our goal of $75,000 and were able to open our doors to special needs families and their peers. Sensory Beans is run solely on volunteers and there are no paid positions. Even the board members are volunteers. This helps to ensure that all of the proceeds go directly back into the upkeep of the gym so that we can keep our doors open. We continue to rely heavily on regular donations and fundraising to maintain a clean, safe and fun environment. Each day, we hold open-play sessions that children of all ages and abilities can attend to have fun! In addition to these open-play sessions, we host birthday parties, school trips, camp trips, and holiday parties! We also have weekly Sensory Exploration class with our volunteer Occupational Therapist, Liz.
Recently, we hosted a Friends Card Exchange Party For Valentine’s Day. We asked participants to make valentines for the other children coming to the party. At the party, we had volunteer OTs play fun sensory games with the children and our other volunteers made crafts and played in the gym with the kids. After the party was over, the children each received their Valentine’s Day Mailbox filled with cards and treats from their friends! Children felt included and were so excited to share their valentines with friends.
Along with the events that we host for our children, we also have events for the parents! On Monday nights, Sensory Beans hosts a Parent Support Group led by a licensed social worker. We also have special events to hear Occupational Therapists present on topics useful to parents of children who come to play!
All of this is made possible b your volunteers! We have students from Long Island high schools and universities volunteer their free time at Sensory Beans!
We also look forward to celebrating our first Anniversary of Sensory Beans this March 2018