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The Sensory Room is a refuge for students

By October 19, 2022September 16th, 2023No Comments

By Allison Campbell-Jensen

Student employee Grace tries out some of the stressbusters in the Sensory Room.

Student employee Grace tries out some of the stressbusters in the Sensory Room.

Researching papers,…
writing papers,
…texting friends,…
preparing for midterms,…
getting ready to go out,
…finding that pair of gloves (or not finding those gloves),
memorizing the parts of:

  • a play,
  • a skeleton, or
  • a proof…

Sometimes, as the poet William Wordsworth wrote, The World is Too Much With Us.

At times like these, University of Minnesota students may be glad to know that Wilson Library has a special refuge — the Sensory Room — where they can go when they need to just chill.

Fidget toys, weighted blankets, lava lights, squeeze balls, and handwritten encouragements are among the stress relievers on hand. Turn on the lava lamp, find your balance in the wobble seat, calm your mind, and discover a new point of view.

Anyone in the University community can reserve the room — which is recommended. Or stop by the front desk of Wilson Library to see if it is available and check out the key.

And, for a time, take the opportunity to drift away from stresses that have piled up.

Shelter from stress

Last year, library staff heard from a transfer student from the University of Minnesota–Duluth that a sensory room might be a good way to help students succeed. Or at least help them relax!

Student sitting in front of desk with fidget toys and handwritten signs.

Alexa proposed the idea of a Sensory Room and helped to decorate it.

That student is Alexa Kromrey, who is majoring in theater.

“In Duluth, they had like four [sensory] rooms — and they were always booked,” Alexa Kromrey says. “If I’m having a hard day with my mental health,” she adds, a visit to this room will help her “process harder feelings if I need to — or take a break from the overstimulating environment on campus.”

She brought up the idea to Richmond Kinney, a member of the Libraries’ Student Experience, Learning & Outreach team. Serendipitously, Kinney says, at the time, there was still leeway to put in a budget request to fund the room’s furnishings. Kinney also consulted with a stress-reduction expert at the U’s Boynton Health to identify helpful tools and activities.

A collaborative project

Alexa Kromrey created the hand-written signs and consulted with Kinney on the furniture

and fidget items. She feels proud to know she helped bring this idea to fruition on the Twin Cities campus. Because she commutes about 35 minutes from her home in Hudson, Wisconsin, the Sensory Room represents another place, on campus, where she can retreat and feel at home.

The room is open to anyone who wishes to reserve it for up to two hours, Kinney says.

At times, any one of us can use a break, a little time to pick up markers to color, or pop the fidget toys. Ahhhhh …

Boynton offers mental health services

Help for students experiencing mental health issues

Boynton Mental Health provides both in-person and telehealth counseling and psychiatric treatment for students.

  • Schedule an appointment by calling the clinic at 612-624-1444.
  • Students who are currently in care can contact their providers via the MyBoynton patient portal.
  • Drop-in services are limited during this time. Please call the clinic FIRST at 612-624-1444 to talk about how we can help you.

Urgent Mental Health Care

If you feel you might harm yourself or others or if this is an emergency, please do the following immediately:

Directions to Boynton’s clinics in Minneapolis and St. Paul


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