Zen Zone Sensory Gym, located in Croton-on-Hudson, is an indoor play and learning space for children of all abilities and learning styles.
To my 5-year-old son Roan, it is known as “ZenZoneZenZoneZenZone!”
I am a mother of a child with special needs, and when my family moved up to Westchester last summer from Brooklyn, Zen Zone became our haven. It was where we went to meet new friends, to relax, and to get our wiggles out. It is our home away from home.
A SHARED DREAM
Zen Zone marked its first anniversary April 29, 2020. It is owned and operated by Margie Ferris, a Speech-language Pathologist, and Melissa Wassil, a teacher and Director of Sunset Nursery School in Montrose. The two met 10 years ago.
Five years later, they discovered they had a joint vision: an inclusive setting that was both fun and calming for all children. Together they created a sensory gym that offers a developmentally appropriate play space for children 5 and under, enrichment groups for children and adults, private birthday parties, and individual therapy.
The licensed therapists who provide physical, occupational and speech-language therapies are dedicated to treating the whole person through a multi-sensory approach, with a dash of mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? Simply put, it is being present and aware without judgment. Right here, right now. No past, no future. Easier said than done, right?
The ZZ team helps parents and children achieve mindfulness in several ways. When someone enters the Zone, they are greeted by staff with a “mindful moment”— it may be listening to a chime or a rain stick, or watching a breathing ball expand and contract.
Once inside, the smartly designed space uses soft lighting and soothing natural colors. like blues and greens. The air is fragrant with lavender, chamomile and mandarin essential oils. A soundtrack softly plays fun, familiar music woven with natural sounds.
The cause for celebration that attends a first anniversary has been blunted, of course, by the pandemic shutdown.
Until Zen Zone can open its doors again, it is offering several ways to stay connected.
Family yoga is streaming live on Saturdays at 10 a.m. with teacher and certified yoga instructor Lindsay Fletcher. All ages and levels are welcome.
You can book an appointment for virtual sessions of Mindfulness (Mindful Child or Mindful Parent) led by Special Education teacher Noreen Hegarty-Weber); Mindful Connection (for adults and couples) with energy healer Jess Erick; and Executive Functioning (ages 7-adult) with psychologist Jennifer Lupiani. There also is Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Therapy.
During the shutdown, you can plan ahead, and support a local business, by buying Open Gym passes for future use.
My son and I cannot wait to return. The other day, he was pretending our swing set was a rocket ship.
“Where are we going?” I asked him. “We can go anywhere in the world.”
He smiled and said, “We’re going to Zen Zone!”