Sensory-friendly: a safe play place for children with autism

The Northtown Mall in Blaine, Minnesota, bustles with activities for children: a video game arcade, furry motor scooters shaped like animals, a bungee-cord trampoline you’d expect to see at a carnival. Among the flashing lights and commotion is Tony’s Place, which opened doors in October with a mission to cultivate an inclusive play space for people who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their family members and friends. Inside Tony’s Place you’ll find twinkling fairy lights wrap around various sensory swings that can hold multiple people, including children, adults and people with wheelchairs. A pallet of bubble wrap stands in an alcove, available for anyone to satisfy that tactile need. There’s a netted trampoline and physical activity center to help release physical energy. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 8/15: Fostering Native children in Native homes imperative to preserving culture, preventing erasure

Although the Indian Child Welfare Act requires the state to place Native children with family or kin when possible, there is a severe shortage of Native foster homes to accommodate this need. Staff in the Native foster care network stress the importance of giving Native children homes that can address their culture, teach traditions and help them learn to navigate the world as a Native person. Placing children in Native homes will also serve to prevent cultural erasure. “It’s really a difficult task to figure out what they know and how you can support it,” said Victor Walter (Bois Fort Ojibwe), foster parent. “Whether it’s going to powwows, putting out a spirit plate at meals, smudging or sweat lodges…you really have to find out what the kids are used to and at least support that. Continue Reading