Morning of sensory activities makes Winter Festival Family Days accessible for all

Dennae and Stephanie playing with mindful rocks, which are used when feeling anxious or frustrated, during the 2023 Family Days sensory morning. -- Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald.

The Prince Albert Winter Festival made sure to include something for everyone at the 2023 Family Days, including a morning of special programming with sensory activities open to children and adults alike.

From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesday, close to ten kids aged zero to 13 visited the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre to explore their senses with several fun areas that included different sensory boxes and other activities.

“Sensory is really therapeutic and it helps kiddos feel, which is something that a lot of people and a lot of kiddos struggle with. Usually, we’re shutting down feelings or we’re just trying to move past uncomfortable stuff,” said Vanessa Hart with the Prince Albert Winter Festival.

Bringing sensory activities to Family Days in order to make it more accessible made sense to Hart, who runs her own mental health therapeutic classroom. She explained that sensory play is a good option for children with anxiety, or those that live with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

“Sensory is important because you’re trying to figure out what your emotions are and a lot of that is blocked if you don’t understand your senses,” said Hart. “Sensory is really important for kids to just play with and be able to express themselves. One of the biggest things that we have issues with in school is that kiddos have a hard time telling us how they feel and what they need.”

Following the two hours of sensory fun, Wednesday afternoon was filled with cultural activities like beading and sash weaving led by knowledge keeper, Kalyne Johnson.

The sensory morning activity was made possible by North Sask River Métis Nation Local 269 and funded through Métis Nation—Saskatchewan Community Enhancement Early Years Grant Program.