LIBERTY CITY, Texas — Not many schools can claim they have a room designed for students diagnosed with autism or behavioral sensory disorders.
However, Sabine Elementary School can with its new and innovative sensory room that opened in April.
It's a quiet, small room designed with special lighting and sensory items including toys, foam pads and throw blankets called the Roxy Room — a name with a significant story behind it and what would make the sensory room at Sabine Elementary the first of its kind.
First grade teacher D'Ann Gerbine met 8-year-old Roxy Foltyn and her father, Jackson, at Jackson's Theater in Gladewater.
"He has a daughter named Roxy, that is autistic," Gerbine said. "I just noticed her sitting in the back of the theater, trying to block out some of the sensory overloads that she was experiencing."
It was in that moment Gerbine felt led to offer a helping hand.
"I just felt led to make a special area for her in the theater, where she had some sensory items and a place where she could escape from all that," Gerbine said.
Gerbine would later join Jackson's nonprofit initiative, the Roxy Room Project, an effect inspired by his daughter which is designed to create sensory spaces wherever there is a need.
"He held a fundraiser event and donated money from that event to create a sensory room at our elementary school," Gerbine said.
Since its grand opening, it's already made quite a significant impact on the students at Sabine Elementary.
"It was absolutely amazing to witness because I just happened to walk in when they were utilizing the room," Gerbine said. "The reaction from this little girl was just playing with the fiber optic strings; it was precious and special to me."
Foltyn's goal is to spread his initiative statewide in hopes of one day creating a legacy his daughter Roxy can carry on when she gets older.
"She has a legacy going forward," Gerbine said. "His dream is to make this hers to take over as she gets older and advocate for other people with autism and sensory processing disorders state and nationwide."
To learn more about joining the Roxy Room Project or to donate in an effort to help Foltyn's mission, check out their website.