Hughes Federal Credit Union, Kirk-Bear Canyon Library Unveil New Sensory Program

Members of the Friends of the Kirk-Bear Canyon Public Library, Hughes Federal Credit Union, the Autism Society of Southern Arizona and librarians recently unveiled a new sensory program geared to the needs of neuro-diverse and Autistic children.

With its specialized play experiences, the expanded sensory program is the first of its kind within the Pima County Public Library system.

The sensory program was made possible through donations made by Hughes to Friends of Kirk-Bear Canyon Public Library, a fundraising arm of the library that has received more than $117,000 from the credit union since 2018 to help underwrite the costs of a variety of literacy programs and supplies.

The library’s new sensory program is for infants and children up to 5 years old and features a variety of interactive opportunities that are soothing and encourage curiosity, problem-solving, and more. The sensory program also offers a special calming space with dim lighting, noise-canceling headphones, and calming activities.

“We are thrilled with the collaborative results of this new program and what it will bring to those seeking a welcoming and positive space or children with special sensory needs,” said Elisa Ross, Hughes Federal Credit Union VP of marketing, sales and service.

The sensory program is open to the public once a month, with limited capacity. Families are encouraged to visit the Pima County Public Library’s event calendar to learn more about dates and times and to register online. 

“The Autism Society of Southern Arizona was honored to help craft recommendations for the sensory play area,” said Kate Elliott, program and grant coordinator. “Sensory play is so important for brain development and managing sensory overwhelm in autistic and neurodiverse children. Having this accommodating space will allow autistic children to engage more fully in the wonderful programming at the library.”

“Pima County Public Library is very excited to offer our system’s first children’s program with such an engaging variety of sensory stations,” said Linde Furman, Kirk-Bear Canyon Library branch manager. “Programs we have had in the past, such as Sensory Storytime, have helped pave the way for new program concepts such as this that serve the needs of neurodiverse children. We anticipate that the sensory program will be very popular and we are so grateful for the support we’ve received to create a great space for children and their caregivers to explore and learn together.”

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