Goddard School Owner and Local Nonprofit Bring 'Extreme Room Makeover' to Family
A good night’s sleep is something most families take for granted, but not for The Self Family. In November 2010, Stephanie Self went into her son Gavin’s room to kiss him goodnight only to find her son sitting straight up in bed shaking all over. After a year of doctor visits and tests, Gavin was diagnosed mitochondrial disease, a terminal neurological condition that attacks good DNA and kills off organs in the body.
After being diagnosed mitochondrial disease, Gavin slept with his parents to avoid the risk of him falling and injuring himself in the middle of the night. That was until Roswell-based nonprofit, Sunshine on a Ranney Day, stepped in. Founded on the belief that every child deserves a safe place to learn and play, Sunshine on a Ranney Day creates safe, fun and uplifting room makeovers for children with long-term illness.
On Jan. 5, 2013, more than 100 local volunteers created a dream room makeover for Gavin in the family's Buford home, which included a special bed that would allow him to sleep in his own room. In addition to Gavin’s bedroom, volunteers also retrofitted the family’s unfinished basement into a fully functional space for Gavin to receive therapy.
Debbie Braun, owner of The Goddard School, was one of the major contributors to the design of the basement makeover. After raising two children with sensory processing disorder, Braun used her personal experience and expertise to partner with the non-profit.
“I wanted to get involved with Sunshine on a Ranney Day when I heard they would be helping children with terminal illnesses and learning differences,” said Braun. “I enjoy sharing my knowledge of children in any way that I can to help in the community.”
Braun has been helping parents of children with neurodevelopmental conditions for several years. In 2009, she opened a Sensory Integration Playroom at The Goddard School in Alpharetta. Developed in conjunction with experts and specialists in OT, Speech and Natural Health Solution therapies, Goddard’s Sensory Integration Playroom encourages children to explore the full use of their sensory experiences in a safe and loving environment.
The Sensory Integration Playroom offers a variety of features unique to early childhood education, including a team of on-site therapists, an organic lunch program and a curriculum that focuses on sensory processing activities and socialization skills.
“We believe in an inclusionary approach at The Goddard School, and I knew I could help The Self Family, especially with the sensory integration therapies and equipment,” said Braun.
The Goddard School in Alpharetta made several donations to the makeover project, including a rock wall, mat for Gavin’s therapy and several therapy toys. The school’s education director, Rehab Refaei, also designed and donated a 3-D sensory mural for Gavin’s therapy room – a piece that was both artistically beautiful and sensory appropriate.
When the final room makeovers were revealed to Gavin and his family, the sense of excitement and gratitude could be felt by all involved.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s really overwhelming,” repeated Gavin’s mother after seeing the finished rooms.
The Goddard School in Alpharetta plans to partner with Sunshine on a Ranney Day on the next makeover project as well. You can learn more about upcoming makeovers by visiting www.sunshineonaranneyday.com. For more information about The Goddard School, visit www.goddardschool.com.