Healthy. Safe. Secure. This is how Brenda Norman, Support Services Director and Safety Officer for Heritage envisions each new facility and feature of The Heritage Community. “We work to meet sensory needs through lighting, sounds and color transitions. With sensory areas, dimmable lights, blackout shields, acoustic dampening materials to minimize sounds, and more access to natural colors, the creation of a peaceful atmosphere smoothly transitions from indoor to outdoor.
“This is the first major physical academy specialization project. It uniquely signifies Heritage’s step into further specialization.” Neil Wallace, Business Development Partner, infuses powerful innovation into the Heritage dynamic. “This project paves the way for future enhancement. We are figuring out the optimum design to ensure this project will meet the needs for students and the staff who help them, creating a balance between the need for privacy and gaining the ability to self-regulate.
Neil explained, “The use of natural light, stunning window views and common areas, and minimizing sensory stimulus translates into lower anxiety which helps them feel safe and become more regulated and relaxed.” With 31 years of experience, Brenda agrees, “From the paint to the light bulbs, every moment counts, and every feature matters. The environment of safety is vital to their growth.”
Neil and Brenda are part of a committed team who are creating state-of-the-art homes for Peers Academy students who reside in Timpanogos and Olympus, currently living in a basement home environment. Neil shares, “We are getting the students above ground. Ideally we want students to be in more open areas, making it feel more comfortable and more like home.
Gracious support is mirrored throughout the community, Brenda continued, “We are so grateful for generous donors who have deferred some costs. The whole process is very rewarding for all. Seeing the consistency of care from the executive level, to the staff throughout the company and contractors who share our vision, we all realize we are part of something bigger. Each person knows they make a difference.”
Healthy. Safe. Secure. Neil agrees this is the perfect environment, “to help students understand their sensory needs, meet those needs and then have more control in their lives, increasing their ability to make positive choices. This applies the principle ‘accommodate before you treat.’ We create a bridge from an optimal environment which reduces sensory overwhelm to working on treatment.” Healing and hope build the foundation for better lives.
And the crowning moment of it all? Brenda’s face lights up, “The day we move the kids in…the expressions on their faces…it will be powerful….”