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  • Writer's pictureJulie Miskoviak

A new relaxing, calming space for teens

Teens work hard in the Adolescent Day Treatment Program at Ascension All Saints Hospital to overcome mental health and behavioral struggles. When they need a break or a place to regulate their emotions, the program's new sensory room is the perfect place to go.

An existing space in the adolescent behavioral health area was recently repurposed thanks to donor support of Ascension Wisconsin Foundation. Over $15,000 was invested to enhance the space and create a sensory room with a marble wall panel, lighting displays, soft seating and other soothing and interactive, yet calming experiences for young patients.

“We really are in a youth mental health crisis for our young people, especially after the pandemic,” said Stacey Yonkoski, Manager of Behavioral Health Services at Ascension All Saints. “Our program is provided five days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Being able to offer this safe space to calm their nervous system with lowlights, soft sounds and now these wonderful displays, really helps ground them and better connect with us.”

Cassi Huntington is a Lead-Occupational Therapist for the Adolescent Day Treatment Program and works first-hand with teens in the program. She has seen how the additions have a positive impact.

"This room has been a safe space to talk through tough topics, and to use sensory strategies to help the teens feel calm and emotionally regulated. The wide variety of items were selected in order to meet the needs of a diverse group of patients. We use these different items, like weighted blankets, the interactive marble wall, fidgets and even sour candy to help them focus on the here and now, and not on their overwhelming thoughts. Even the sound of the bubble tube, also visually soothing, can help patients feel more comfortable,” Cassi said.

 “We have these wonderful methods available to create calming conversations with our teens. It can pull them out of flashbacks or hallucinations. We also have a therapy dog, Bingo, who comes to the program twice a week,” Cassi added.

Teens may come to the day treatment program after being in the in-patient adolescent unit at  Ascension All Saints. They may be experiencing a variety of behavioral health issues ranging from anxiety to depression, anger control, OCD, psychosis or mild substance abuse.

“We are trying to support these kids when they go back into their life with a continuum of care through in-patient and out-patient services and programs. We follow up and meet with them weekly after they complete the day program so they are still connected to the support they need and with the same counselors they worked with in the program,” Stacey said.

Thank you for helping provide this sensory room to help relax our young patients so they can focus on healing and feeling better. You are supporting their journey to recovery and to become a stronger person in the community.



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