We’re having many rewarding interactions with students right now that are interesting for two reasons. Firstly, we notice how productive it is for them to name their challenges right now. Whether it’s procrastination or motivation or fear over uncertainty, they feel better just by voicing it and having the news met with understanding (versus judgment or advice). “That makes sense because this is hard!” is the best response you can offer. The second interesting thing is that by being curious and asking follow up questions we find that they have many answers to the challenges presented by the shelter-in-place. What is in short supply for them right now is self-kindness.
Finally, we must share The Importance of Safe Gun Storage During the COVID-19 Pandemic. If you have them in your home, make sure firearms are locked, unloaded, and stored separately from ammunition.
We learned a lot this week from a state-wide wellness webinar about what students most need right now. To put it simply, they need the four R’s: Reassurance (this is temporary and everything will be okay); Routine (loss of structure is destabilizing--human beings need it); Regulation (in times of stress, we must practice self-care to calm the central nervous system response to a steady diet of uncertainty, complexity, and volatility) and most importantly, Relationships (ones that offer love without condition, safety, and understanding.) We also got to hear from grief experts about the very unique type of loss students are suffering. Worthy of your time, here is an excellent article on helping your kids with grief and loss from the Greater Good Science Center. This coming week, we continue to offer programming that leans toward “fun and games” as students have expressed a need for that. We’re also offering something cool and different on Tuesday at 5pm as we interview a class of ‘18 Don, now Tiktok celebrity, about how he’s prioritizing wellbeing and sharing it with others. Be well and stay in touch! (CS 4/24 @3:20)
This week we joined 8,000 educators and mental health professionals on the California Wellness Together webinar sponsored by the state’s Department of Education. We engaged in learning around practices, policies and programs to inform and strengthen student supports. It was gratifying to realize that many of the plans we put in place in advance of the training had all the right ideas. Some of the most important things we can do for all students is to listen, encourage, reassure, and normalize their experience. We continue to reach out to students to refine our offering in terms of theme, content, and timing. We’re analyzing the results of our school-wide survey and will be switching up the time of day of our offerings so that more students are available. We’re grateful to the many Dons who showed up for Wellness by attending a session and by filling out the survey. We humbly share with you a comment from one of the many students who’ve reached out to say they appreciate us: “I think what you are doing has so much potential for impacting many teens’ lives in a positive way. I just felt happier after our zoom.” Whenever we get to connect with students, we just feel happier too. We’ll continue to have Tuesday-Friday offerings this week and students can check loopmail for details. (CS 4/17 @5:16pm)
We are providing real-time, online programming to support and connect students to Wellness Staff and peers but we need your help to get the word out. Students can access the Zoom programs by checking their School loop mail or news. We’re helping the students by creating space for them to process the experiences and emotions that come with this difficult transition. Our weekly programs will evolve to meet student needs and interests. They take place at noon each day as follows:
- Tuesday: Tea with Wellness
- Wednesday: Journaling through the Pandemic
- Thursday: Quarantine Cooking
- Friday: “Friday Focus” Mindfulness practices to manage stress
Parents can find important resources on Wellbeing and Mental Health here at the district website. You can continue to reach us during school hours at firstname.lastname@example.org. (CS @5:30 4/10)
Wellness will launch a virtual center this week with daily programming for students to connect with Wellness Staff and to engage in activities designed to help them navigate the pandemic from a strength-building perspective. Students will receive invitations to sign up for the programs via school loop. This week will be a soft-launch and the model will evolve as we learn more about students’ needs at this time. Please follow us on Instagram @acalaneswellness.
The AUHSD Wellness Centers were designed to provide on-site, school-based mental health, social, and emotional student support. This unprecedented challenge requires a significant shift in how we support students in isolating times, and in turn, requires implementing new technologies, policies and practices, and training. We must do all of these things while still adhering to existing rules and regulations and creating programming that students actually want.
Over the past two weeks, we have been: communicating with students via Instagram (@acalaneswellness) to offer mindfulness-based stress management strategies; maintaining continuity-of-care with specific families and students who had been receiving existing Wellness support; and, of course, creating a longer-term, post-spring break Wellness plan with other AUHSD Wellness Centers.
On April 7th, we will launch a pilot “Virtual Wellness Center” including a resource hub, online support and skill-building groups, and virtual student check-in’s. While this is unchartered territory, we are using this as an opportunity to experiment with new ideas to support our students and community. We look forward to announcing more specifics after Spring Break!
Please stay safe and sane during the Pandemic Spring Break. If you need support, here is a link to key resources compiled by our district here (CS 3/27@1:38pm)
In the spirit of “Community Can’t Be Canceled,” Wellness is using Instagram (@acalaneswellness) to bring wellness-related advice, resources and connection to the school community. We’re working with staff and student organizations like Leadership and Bring Change to Mind (@bringchangetomindacalanes) to provide positive messages and practical guidance for challenging times. If you didn’t catch the launch of our positivity mindset program Three Good Things, you can learn more on Instagram @3goodthings_ahs. We’re trying to increase the reach to these accounts and to @ahs_dons because connection is what we all need the most. You’ll soon see us launch a mindfulness program based on the curriculum of Mindful Schools. We’ll be adapting the lessons for a short form initially and if there’s interest, we may explore the possibility for some live practices. Please tell your students how greatly they are missed and how strongly the entire Dons staff believes in their ability to not only rise to the challenge of the current crisis but to build remarkable resilience along the way. Stay tuned each week for more thoughts and resources. We remain, so grateful to our incredible Parents Club for this platform! (CS - 3/20@2:37pm)
With school closure due to Covid-19 and more time to think as a result of social distancing, we need to reduce stress more than ever. This gift of more down time is perfect for students to catch up on sleep and perhaps to practice presence which we can model. Check-in with yourself throughout the day to ask, “How are things for me right now?” Planning for, protecting against, and ruminating on uncertainty is stressful. Worrying makes sense and so does planning but we can do those things and then shift our attention back to the present. We move out of our heads and into our bodies by sensing our internal experience and immediate conditions. What can I see, smell, hear, and feel right now? What’s happening around me-- Are there people to connect with? Beautiful things to see? Opportunities to engage in learning or practicing skills? Am I safe, comfortable, at ease? Kids look to adults for cues so your regulated nervous system will co-regulate theirs. (CS)