Additionally, the board also designated May 1 to 7 as Emotional Wellness Week with May 6 as Mind Wellness Day within the district.
“The district is committed to increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of mental health issues, including the steps our students and the people in our community can take to protect and support their mental health,” said Board of Education President Adriane G. Saunders. “The board applauds the efforts of the leadership in our schools to increase awareness of ways to develop habits to support good health and wellness.”
A variety of events are planned in Mount Vernon schools to support the board’s resolution.
For example, at Rebecca Turner Elementary School, all kindergarten through fifth-grade students will take part in various in-class lessons and activities that promote self-awareness of emotions and teach self-care techniques and skills.
“The goal is to help students become cognizant of their own thoughts and feelings and learn how to safely and effectively manage such emotions,” said Principal Jamal Doggett. “Students will also work collaboratively to create different classroom tools to be utilized when unwanted feelings and emotions arise. Such activities include creating stress balls, feel good boxes, and worry jars and relaxation visuals. Classroom teachers will also be provided with a list of recommended books for their library as resources as well as a ‘small versus big’ worry chart students can refer to when in need.”
At Holmes Elementary, students will take part in a “Heart Health and Jog-a-Thon” in gym classes and focus on emotional and spiritual wellness by learning about relaxation techniques and mindfulness, according to Principal Carol Quinones-Smith.
“The school’s Gardening Club will meet to discuss plans for caring for the Holmes School Garden and the week will end with a career day where community members will visit third through sixth-graders to talk about their work and the education and experience they needed to get those jobs,” added Quinones-Smith.
Yoga instruction will be part of wellness activities at Traphagen Elementary, where students will learn that when mental pressure is released so is the tightness in one’s muscles and joints.
“Similarly, when you focus on reducing stiffness in the body, you automatically release tension held in the mind,” added Principal Ilene Bichler.
Daily announcements will also include tips about exercise, health and proper nutrition, linking that to the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to academic success.
“We will continue to promote ‘Workout Wednesdays’ and ‘Fitness Fridays,’” Bichler added. “We have also added ‘Motivational Mondays’ to our schedule which highlights Motown and other music to get students to move.”
Programs like these reinforce Mount Vernon’s commitment to engage students in creative activities to reinforce the importance of overall good health and wellbeing.
“We never lose sight of this commitment to good health and wellbeing,” said District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton. “Our academic mission includes having our students better understand the importance of overall good health and well-being. Introducing different fun events and activities and showcasing them in May helps support the district’s mental health awareness initiative. And that goes full circle in aiding in student academic success.”
About Mount Vernon City School District
With more than 8,000 students in 16 schools, the Mount Vernon City School District is committed to providing a quality education to its children as well as developing programs that meet the diverse academic and social needs of its students.