John Dolan School offers a very unique and specialized learning environment. We serve students ages 3 to 21 with multiple disabilities. Each student's educational goals and activities are outlined in a Personal Program Plan developed collaboratively by families, caregivers, and school personnel. Areas of focus within this plan include physical motor development, sensory awareness, communication skills, functional academics, social skills, leisure opportunities, and independence-building. To implement these plans, we access several consultative services including a physical therapist, speech language pathologist, and occupational therapist. The school has a full-time nurse on staff.
In 2002, John Dolan School proudly opened the Mary Vinish Snoezelen Park. This indoor park is designed to offer a stimulating and relaxing leisure environment for our students and families. Students with special needs throughout our school division also benefit from visits to this wonderful facility. Snoezelen originated in Holland; the word is derived from two Dutch words meaning to sniff and to doze, capturing the concepts of sensation and relaxation. Inside our Park, students experience a soft, safe, and stimulating environment, comfortable seating, interactive wall panels, shimmering bubble tubes, large-muscle play activities, special lighting features, and soothing music. The goal of experiencing the Snoezelen environment is simple - it is a place for students to enjoy, explore, and play. Research has shown that children using Snoezelen rooms show increased focus, motivation, responsiveness, communication, happiness, interactive play skills, and social relationships.
Another specialized learning area within our school opened in 2005. In collaboration with a physical and occupational therapist, we developed a therapeutic swing space. Students can choose from a variety of swings aimed at stimulating vestibular awareness, which is key to overall wellness and sensory integration. Depending on the type of swing used and the motion of the swing, this activity can be either exciting or calming in nature. The use of this space has greatly enhanced our students' programs.
In October 2018, we opened an fully accessible outdoor sensory playground made possible by the fundraising efforts of the Parent Council along with the generous support of the Kinsmen Foundation as well as an anonymous donor. This playground has proven to be a powerful motivator for students by providing them with a play based environment where they can work toward their goals for communication, independence, personal/social well being, motor skill development, health and sensory stimulation. As the first playground on the John Dolan school site, it affirms the spirit of universal design, making environments accessible and equitable to all.
Our Mission Statement: "To enhance each student's quality of life through educational experiences and caring relationships that foster independence and self-esteem."