CALIPATRIA — Every school year brings new challenges for young students. Having a new teacher, making new friends and learning brand-new coursework may seem overwhelming at times. But the students at Fremont Primary Elementary (FPE) School in Calipatria may soon find their "happy place" during those times.
In conjunction with Autism Support of Imperial County (ASIC), FPE unveiled its new Peace and Love Zone (PALZ) room to students who need a break from the traditional classroom setting.
"This is the first type of room that I've seen throughout the Valley," said James Gonzalez, president of ASIC. "I hope it motivates others throughout the county to establish similar rooms like the one here at Fremont Primary."
Fremont Primary Principal Leo Monroy says that children in the traditional classroom setting sometimes lose focus after a long school day. He hopes this room will provide an escape for students who may feel overwhelmed.
"This room is designed for students who might need a break from the fast-paced setting of a classroom," said Monroy. "They are able to come here, read a book and just relax until they are ready to go back to their class."
The PALZ room will serve as a calming zone for overwhelmed students. Monroy said he would like to utilize another multipurpose room on campus to serve as an active room for high-energy students.
"This room is a safe space for kids," said Jacqueline Riddell, a parent who was instrumental in getting the room established. "It's very beneficial for kids to know that their behavior is not always their fault and that they need a place to just calm down."
Riddell, who has two children with varying stages of autism, says the room will help countless children, like her own.
"My son [Killian] would hate to go to the office when he started acting up," said Riddell. "If this room had been here when he was in Fremont, it would have helped him tremendously."
Faculty at FPE says the implementation of the room will help students calm themselves down whenever they feel overwhelmed and will ensure a better learning environment for all students.
"It helps our students who feel the need to self-regulate themselves," said Alejandra Gaytan, a special education teacher at Fremont Primary. "They are able to come here and relax, get back on track, and when they feel ready, can come back into the classroom and be ready to learn."