Perry Meridian High School junior Kevin Waggoner will improve a sensory room for special needs children at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School for his Eagle Scout project. Waggoner has exceeded the goal of $3,000 in initial funds for the improvements that will be built in an existing room at the school this summer. Waggoner gained inspiration for his project from the late Luca Joseph Berger, a 13-year-old cousin who died Aug 15, 2015, a special needs child. He attended the Rise Learning Center.
“He is my inspiration for this,” Waggoner said. “I wanted to do something for special needs kids. At first, I thought of an outdoor playground, but the cost was through the roof. “I realized that there was a lack of resources for special needs kids, so the room (sensory) is what they really need. They will be able to use it every day. It will be a great improvement.”
Waggoner did the initial research on a sensory room and approached the school’s occupational therapist Brooke McDonald, principal John Sponsel and Perry Township schools superintendent Pat Mapes.
The project also met the criteria of the Eagle Scout program of giving back to the community and showing leadership skills. Waggoner is a member of Troop 183 under scoutmaster Robert Bruce. The troop meets at Friedens United Church of Christ, 8300 S. Meridian St. With valuable input from McDonald, the room began to take shape with pencil and paper. The $3,000-plus already raised pays for new bookshelves, paint for the room, sensory wall panels, interactive lighting, sensory equipment, light tables and more items.
“They need a room that appeals to all their senses,” said Waggoner who has been a scout since 1st grade. “Part of the room will have a wall panel with items that the kids can see and touch.”
The sensory room attempts to utilize the children’s ability to interact with others, develop organizational skills and stimulate their senses in ways that are not possible in a traditional classroom. The PMHS student also plays trumpet in the jazz band and is active in Best Buddies. He is a defender on the Falcons’ lacrosse team and ran cross-country. He wants to seek an appointment to the US. Naval Academy and study law.
However, his love for scouting helps set the table for the future. He has taken part in many campouts and has gone whitewater rafting in West Virginia and twice to a rocket camp where scouts build and fire rockets.
“The skills I have learned in scouting can be applied to the rest of my life,” he emphasized. “I am refining my leadership skills and am experiencing a high level of responsibility and accountability.” He is the son of Jill and Kevin Waggoner Sr.
Items needed for sensory wall
“The kids need items that they can touch and feel,” Waggoner said.
He is specifically requesting donations of old door knobs, bolt locks or locks with chains (no padlocks, please.) Those items can be mailed to: Kevin Waggoner, 7908 Hoop Road, Indianapolis, IN 46217. Also, monetary donations still can be made through “GoFundMe” by following instructions to Waggoner’s project or by mailing donations to his home address.