NEW PORT RICHEY — A large crowd Thursday helped dedicate a Sensory Center and other additions at the Red Apple Adult Training Center satellite facility.
The Sensory Center at 6527 Jefferson St. features aroma machines, bubble column machines, fiber optic curtains, various textures around the room and a laser projector that can beam a display of stars on the ceiling, among other therapeutic attractions.
Supporters also toured the Jefferson Room addition of some some 2,300 square feet, which was completed last year.
Red Apple School CEO Steve Giammichele thanked the many donors and staff who made the project possible. Giammichele invoked the name of Red Apple’s late founder, Dave Neal, who started the nonprofit organization in 1995 with a handful of clients.
The nonprofit institution now caters to 143 developmentally disabled adults ages 18 and older at several Adult Training Center facilities,
During the ribbon cutting led by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, Giammichele and Red Apple Chief Operating Officer Kerry Rondeau presented a plaque to John Harper, board president of the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring. The Zephyrhills-based foundation gave $20,000 to the Sensory Center.
Trudy Acevedo, quality assurance coordinator for Red Apple, suggested the concept for a sensory room. She explained how the sensory therapy devices can be adjusted for each individual. One client might appreciate stimulation while another client might suffer from sensory overload at the same setting.
Acevedo read several passages from a book written by Donna Williams, a woman with autism.
“People with disabilities, particularly those with a diagnosis of autism, often experience sensory overload or can have the opposite effect tuning out all sensory (input) around them,” Rondeau wrote in a Red Apple flyer.
“A balance between relaxation and activity can be provided in a safe environment for the person,” Rondeau added.
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders will train the Red Apple staff on proper adjustments of the equipment. Staff members at Red Apple also are required to pass state training courses and background screenings.
For information or tours at Red Apple, call Kerry Rondeau at (727) 847-2555 or go to the website at redappleadulttc.net.