Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilitySensory Friendly Discovery pre-k program launching in Culpeper | WSET
Close Alert

Sensory Friendly Discovery pre-k program launching in Culpeper

FILE IMAGE - AUG. 11, 2022 - Thanks to grants from Dogwood Health Trust and , Jackson County Public Schools will more than double the number of preschool classrooms operating this year, from 3 to 7, for a total of 120 spots for preschool students. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)
FILE IMAGE - AUG. 11, 2022 - Thanks to grants from Dogwood Health Trust and , Jackson County Public Schools will more than double the number of preschool classrooms operating this year, from 3 to 7, for a total of 120 spots for preschool students. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

An up-and-coming art and music initiative intends to inspire neuro-divergent preschoolers in the Culpeper area.

Local mom Brooke VanTyne is leading the creation of Sensory Friendly Discovery with support from Jewell Tone Music, where one of her five sons takes lessons.

The Culpeper Main Street music school is creating a cultural outreach nonprofit, Jewell Tone Center for the Arts, and VanTyne is a board member.

She approached John Jewell, owner of the music school with his wife, Carla, about the idea for a sensory program. VanTyne had a very personal reason—her almost 4-year-old son, Kenton, is autistic, non-verbal, and has sensory processing disorder. It was the inspiration for the program.

“When I was thrown into the world of neuro-diversity, I quickly realized our community was lacking in accommodations for those on the spectrum and sensory processing needs,” the local mom said.

SEE ALSO: 7 RPD officers to become Field Training Officers, help get new graduates onto the streets

The term “neurodivergent” describes people whose brain differences affect how their brain works, said VanTyne. They have different strengths and challenges from people whose brains don’t have those differences, including medical disorders, learning disabilities, and other conditions—including music and art proficiency.

The local mom said her older children enjoy sports, art and multiple other programs in the community. But when trying to find a program for Kenton, VanTyne said she was met with resistance in accommodations for participation and lack of individual attention her son needs to thrive.

Observing him in the home environment lit the idea to create a personalized program. She saw her preschooler enjoyed playing the keyboard and playing on his iPad.

“I noticed he could match colors well and if the expectation was shown, he could complete matching tasks,” VanTyne said.

So she put color-coded notes on the keyboard and colored matching notes on pieces of paper. VanTyne experimented with Kenton, looking at the papers and matching the notes.

“This is something we continued to work on, which brought about the idea of Sensory Friendly Discovery. I thought, what if we could create a program where moms and dads could engage with their kiddos and other kiddos in a way that spoke to their sensory needs?”

“What if we could bring together these parents and kiddos, not just for a class, but to learn and grow together for years to come,” she continued.

VanTyne said the program would be tailored to each child. Songs with sign language will be used for language and imitation. Art with accommodations to encourage fine motor skills and free of sensory overload is the goal.

“My hope for the program is that kiddos like mine can not only explore art and music with sensory needs being met amongst a group of peers but also grow and learn together for years to come.”

The board is looking for a Certified Music Therapist or someone with experience in music and working with neuro-diverse youth to teach the class. The program will be expanded to other age groups in the future, all in the coming space for Jewell Tone Center for the Arts.

Sensory Friendly Discovery will kick-off this spring, coinciding with the planned opening of the arts center and music school at its new location in Southgate Shopping Center. John Jewell confirmed they are moving from their Main Street location this April to a much larger space just south of downtown along Madison Road.

“We’re going to double the number of teaching rooms to 12 dedicated art rooms and a bring a room in the front for these classes,” he said of VanTyne’s program, which will be the center’s first.

“There will be a safe room for kids on the spectrum equipped, part of the fundraiser, with special chairs, to make them feel hugged and normalized, let them get away, calm down.”

Jewell, a lifelong guitarist and vocalist, has big dreams for the nonprofit center, which he hopes will reach less fortunate youth and those with special needs he knows art and music can touch.

SEE ALSO: Virginia Tech research is turning food scraps to bioplastic

Sensory Friendly Discovery is exactly the kind of outreach the center will offer, he said, stating they typically start students at age 6 or 7 for lessons.

“A keyboard class for 4-year-olds, this is all kind of new ground for us, but we just feel like children need this kind of stuff. You can help them a get little more grounded in music younger,” Jewell said, referring to his school’s Key Notes program for ages 4-5.

“They learn to read notes by shapes and little characters, little stories that go with it. They are learning and can play songs on the piano. It’s what we want to see happen with the sensory class, and they have the best time.”

Tax-deductible donations and sponsorships will raise funds for instruments, sensory accommodations, and teachers, said Jewell Tone Music Administrator Lynda Henry-Hammond.

“The sensory-friendly music program is going to be offered at no cost to a limited number of kids,” she said. “Our hope is to inspire neuro-divergent kiddos through art and music. The event will be informative, include local business sponsors, vendors and fun for all involved.”

Community Stars, Special Olympics, Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services, Disability Resource Center and Culpeper County Public Schools Family Resource Center will be on-site to talk about services in Culpeper and the surrounding areas along with raffles, face painting and more.

Comment bubble

“Jewell Tone Center for Arts’ mission is to inspire our community to discover the ability and passion to create beautiful things and pioneering ideas that spark joy and change in our world,” according to event publicity.

Loading ...