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On this blog, we share regular updates about the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners partnership between Extension's Children, Youth & Family Consortium and Bruce Vento Elementary School.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Having a Bob Ross Moment: The Calming Room Transformed

By Nora Fox, Research Assistant

It is hard to believe earlier this year we were meeting with University of Minnesota College of Design (CD) students in Dr. Abi Asojo’s interior design class and Bruce Vento Elementary School staff to take dimensions of the soon-to-be calming room. Now, fast forward seven months and we are proud to say we completed the painting of the room just in time for school to start. With the assistance of Bruce Vento staff, St. Paul Public School district engineers, and our project team at U of M Extension, we were able to paint the entire Calming Room in a week’s time… And it was so much fun!

Utilizing the expertise of two CD students, Rachel Grothe and Emily Devore, whom we have been working with since the preliminary designs began earlier this year, we were able to replicate a labyrinth sketch onto the main wall. We used a projector displaying Grothe and Devore’s design to paint the labyrinth in a beautiful and soothing peach color. With the help of Marie Aguirre, who has been a dedicated teacher at Bruce Vento for over 20 years, we finished the labyrinth in just a few hours, having gotten lost in the engaging activity. (See earlier post with the time-lapse video of the labyrinth here: Creating a Labyrinth to Calm).

On our second day, we tackled the small back room and the Zones of Regulation near the door. Marisa Biolo, school social worker at Bruce Vento, spent chipping away at the Zones of Regulation near the entrance to the calming room. Her steady hands and attention to detail, as well as three coats of paint, proved very beneficial to the final product. The staff at Bruce Vento hopes to use the Zones of Regulation, an approach used throughout the school to encourage students to self-regulate and identify when they are in various emotional states or “zones,” upon entering and preparing to leave the Calming Room to return to class.

Just a few feet away, Sara, Judy, and I used our free-hand painting skills to create a cozy, meadow-like mural in the back room, complete with a caterpillar, butterfly, adorable blue bird, and cattails. Again, using the assistance and expertise of the CD students, we attempted to replicate a beautiful painting of three trees, each unique in its own way. We fought our inner type-A personalities, telling each other it’s okay if it’s not perfect!, and enjoying the creativity in the project as best we could. The highlight of the day was when Sara looked over to me, as we contemplated the texture and dimension of each of the trees, and whispered, “I think we are having a Bob Ross moment.” 

Check out the time-lapse video of our work in the backroom:


Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Learners is an ongoing partnership between the Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium and the Bruce Vento Elementary School. Together, along with many other partners, we are developing engaging learning environments that promote student learning and wellness.

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