For a lot of families with children, waiting rooms are inevitable. It’s part of almost every visit to the dentist or the doctor if you’re not able to do a virtual visit. No one actually enjoys the waiting room experience, right? It’s chaotic, usually takes much longer than you think, and it can be stressful—especially for kids.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids see a doctor an average of 31 times from birth to age 21. That’s a lot of appointments and a lot of undue stress for families. One mom in particular, our program’s own Amy Baete, sat through one too many chaotic experiences with her own kids, and decided to do something about it.

“In the middle of my kids climbing on chairs and digging in my purse, I knew that we could do something better and provide a better experience for kids. It seemed crazy that the only options to engage or entertain my kids while we waited were TVs and tablets, so my team and I got to work.”

But without a roadmap or a model of how to accomplish this goal, Amy and the fit team took inspiration from the program’s mission and thought about how kids play.

“At Sanford fit, we believe in doing good things for kids and investing in children’s wellness. This was part of our mission.”

The team worked with physical therapists, clinic leaders, and contractors to design an amazing new pediatric waiting area at one of the organization’s existing clinics in Sioux Falls, SD. Instead of a dark and sterile space with a TV, they created an inclusive space with a brightly-colored sensory path, a castle themed yoga wall, and a self-reflections area for silly faces.

“It was really important to us to use play-based design to create a safe, clean space for children of all ages and abilities to play and be creative while they wait for appointments. Replacing screens with opportunities for kids to be physically active or stimulated was paramount to us.”

Amy recently spoke about this idea during the TEDx Sioux Falls 2020 event and challenged the audience to go do something to impact positive change for kids. “This is just one idea in one clinic, but it made a difference. Everyone can do something to improve the lives of children and big or small-it’s all meaningful.” Watch the entire talk HERE.

So, what will you do? Go create sensory paths in school hallways, chalk the sidewalk with positive messages, have extra recess as a reward, encourage kids to express themselves, champion your local library to utilize areas for active sensory spaces, or just play with your kids, because when children play, the entire world wins.

For more ideas on how to create activity areas or sensory paths in your space, check these out:
Wellness Way Sensory Path
Mindful Moments Cards
fitFlow Yoga