Rockland elementary students improving focus by hopping, skipping, jumping through 'sensory hallways'

SUFFERN, New York (WABC) -- Since December, students at two Rockland County schools have been hopping, skipping and jumping in corridors -- all by design.

The Suffern Central School District is the first in the area to incorporate "sensory hallways."

Brightly colored decals on the floor and walls of Sloatsburg Elementary and Viola Elementary schools direct students to hopscotch, skip and walk along a curving line. They complete the circuit by doing jumping jacks and standing pushups.

Occupational therapist Debra Halsh introduced the idea after researching the importance of incorporating movement into the learning process.

"Our brains are not designed to sit for more than 15 minutes," Halsh said.

The idea is for students to burn off energy enabling them to improve focus.

"They're going back to the class more able to take in what the teacher is trying to teach them," Halsh said.

The district plans to place similar layouts in its other schools.

"When I saw the kids participating in this I was like 'wow,'" Doug Adams, Superintendent of Schools, said. "It helps them academically, it helps them socially, emotionally. It helps them become more aware of their body."

The sensory hallways are a hit with students.

"It helps," says first-grader Raegan Lofberg. "It kinda makes me calmer sometimes."

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