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The sensory story time piloted at Wenatchee Public Library, which offers a calmer atmosphere to avoid overwhelming children on the autism spectrum or those with special sensory needs, will be implemented in Tonasket and Moses Lake libraries thanks to a grant from North Central Accountable Community of Health.

WENATCHEE — Library programming for autistic children and a liaison to help families in the Waterville and Orondo school districts connect to services they need are two of five projects funded in a first round of grants by the North Central Accountable Community of Health.

The $99,900 total awarded Nov. 4 is part of $450,000 being invested in local and regional health initiatives across Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties with a goal of advancing “whole person health.” The Coalitions for Health Improvement Community Initiatives Funding is made possible by NCACH under a statewide Medicaid Transformation Project.

North Central Regional Library received $9,900 that will pay for training and supplies to start new sensory storytimes at the Tonasket and Moses Lake public libraries in 2020, modeled after one that started this fall at Wenatchee Public Library. The money also will be used to create kits of books and sensory support items that can be checked out for free from any of the 30 libraries in the district.

“Our goal at North Central Regional Library is to be a library for everyone,” said Daniel Klayton, an NCRL branch group manager who applied for the funding. “Storytimes are open to all children. But oftentimes they can be a little overwhelming for kids on the autism spectrum or with special sensory needs. So parents may be hesitant to bring their kids to a program.”

The sensory storytimes will offer the same literacy and socialization benefits as the NCRL storytimes offered at every library branch, but will include crafts and toys that accommodate the needs of children with autism, including compression vests, weighted blankets and stuffed animals that help calm and focus children.

The take-home kits also will include resources that connect families to other support organizations in their local area.

Staff training will begin early next year with the goal of starting the new program in the spring.

Communities in Schools of North Central Washington received $22,500 to support a full-time coordinator position in Orondo and Waterville school districts that will help connect kids with caring adults, basic needs and community resources they need to come to school ready to learn.

Communities in Schools is a national nonprofit that partners with school districts to connect families and students with help outside of school, which, in turn, helps students perform better at school.

That might include things like applying for food, health care or cash benefits through the state, finding help for rent, utilities and housing, connecting with food banks, making referrals to mental health, academic or behavioral programs outside of school, or providing encouragement during the school day.

Nora Gonzalez was hired as the coordinator for the two schools in September. According to the Communities in Schools of NCW website, the grant will help fund the position during the 2020-21 school year.

The three other grant-funded projects include:

  • $22,500 to Oxford House Resident Transit Solution Committee to fund a pilot project that supports transportation services for members of the Oxford House community in Chelan County. Oxford House is a self-run, self-supported home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.
  • $22,500 to North Central Washington Economic Development District to support a business innovation competition, targeting small-business economic growth and employment in Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties.
  • $22,500 to Okanogan County Community Coalition to enhance ongoing resiliency initiatives and programming in Okanogan County.

A second cycle of application submission and review is currently underway for projects with budgets greater than $25,000. Award allocations for those projects will be announced in February. For information about the grants, go to ncach.org.

Nevonne McDaniels: 664-7151

mcdaniels@wenatcheeworld.com