Two elementary schools get dream rooms to benefit students

Positively Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Maryville nonprofit with a big heart for kids who’ve experienced devastation in their lives is at it again.

We have followed Kingdom Design Ministries (KDM) through the years, showing you beautiful transformations of children’s bedrooms and other makeovers.

The latest is a double dream room project at two elementary schools that had the same need.

Generations of students have walked through the doors of Porter Elementary School in the Wildwood community of Blount County. It’s been at its current location since 1915 but was established way back in 1806.

Now, there’s a bright new addition inside with fluffy clouds, pillows of all shapes and colors, and a cozy play campsite complete with the pretend makings of s’mores. It’s a sensory room to help kids with anxiety or fear feel safe and more prepared to learn.

Porter principal Judy Pearson explained, “I have some students who–it’s trauma, some come from trauma situations and some, it’s just genetics. Sometimes our bodies are not wired exactly right, and we can’t function in the world exactly right.”

Pearson applied for a room makeover with Kingdom Design Ministries

The group had a grand unveiling when the project wrapped up after just one week of work during spring break last March and returned to show us the concept behind the bright colors and textures.

“We divided the room into four quadrants. We have a sort of calming area, we have a swing, which the students love because that rocking motion helps lower the blood pressure so it’s a very calming effect, then we have a sensory wall and Lego table so they can work on those fine motor skills because sometimes it’s something as simple as -they just need to distract their mind for a few minutes on something else,” said Missy Johnson, Kingdom Design Ministries founder, and program director.

Outside the sensory room is a gathering spot with a park-like feel and school-approved graffiti on the walls. It’s a hit with the kids and adults.

“This is for everyone in the building,” Pearson said. “It was cute. They loved it.”

KDM Development Director Renee Poole added, “it’s so exciting to be able to come back and hear teachers and hear children say this space feels so good, this space is just for me.”

Johnson said, “it really opened our eyes to the need right now in our local schools.”

A grateful principal says these changes will help generations of kids at Porter Elementary.

“For us to have this, it’s a game changer. It really is.”

KDM did also did room makeovers at Rockford Elementary. It took more than 50 volunteers and more than 420 hours of volunteer work to make the projects happen in just one week’s time. The entire process from application, to design to implementation, took about four months, according to Poole.

The group has special thanks to donors Tom Hatcher who sponsored the Porter Elementary makeover, CBI for sponsoring the Rockford project, and to student artist Emma Hendrickson who painted a mural at Rockford as part of the makeover.

To learn about how to donate to Kingdom Design Ministries, other volunteers and staff who make these projects come to life, or how to apply for a room makeover for a child who has been through a devastating situation:

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