- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

FREMONT, Neb. (AP) - The Fremont school district’s Sensory Courtyard will remain open for a few hours a week over the summer, thanks to an agreement with an organization that helps people who have intellectual disabilities.

Sensory Courtyard was developed by Mary Robinson, a teacher of the blind and visually impaired. The 2,400-square-foot space at the district administration center has specialized areas designed to stimulate the five senses of students and others with special needs.

The facility was supposed to be closed for the summer because there would be no faculty to oversee the children, but then Mosaic in Northeast Nebraska stepped in to help keep it open for six hours a week.

“The thing is, if Mosaic wasn’t here right now, none of this would be open to the community, you know?” Robinson told the Fremont Tribune (http://bit.ly/1PLroif ) on Tuesday.

Nearby, 9-year-old Brooklyn Buchholz was glued to the MegaPad, an enlarged IPad-like screen where children can play memory games and complete other activities.

“I think this place is a lot like the Children’s Museum in Omaha - a place that she loves,” said her mother, Jen Buchholz. “But there I can’t ever get her to stop and focus on anything. She’s just glued to that (MegaPad) over there.”

The arrangement also helps Mosaic’s adult patients learn real-world social and work skills, according to Judy Sharrai, a Mosaic activities director.

“They are coming in and helping with opening up, learning how to turn everything on and greet people at the door,” Sharrai said. “They will learn social skills doing that, they will be cleaning so they will learn those duties and they can also spend time using the Sensory Courtyard when they aren’t working.”

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Information from: Fremont Tribune, http://www.fremontneb.com

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