Currently, there are 9 students in my classroom diagnosed with severe intellectual and physical disabilities and we refer to our group as the Super Scotties! During their years in high school, the Super Scotties have an opportunity to be included with their general education peers who volunteer in our classroom as peer tutors. We have between 50-70 different tutors who volunteer in our classroom throughout the school year. This program is beneficial for bettering our school climate in terms of inclusion for all students, as well as giving general education students a safe space on campus to feel welcomed and appreciated. The students who volunteer in our class are active in many different academic and extracurricular activities, so they have a lot on their plates. Similarly, my students are learning how to do everything while they are at school and this can be overwhelming at times. All of my students have wonderful hearts and benefit when they feel loved and accepted by others.
Life becomes very stressful as we grow into adolescence, especially in low-income areas. Between stress at home, with school, and in developing friendships, teenagers are being pushed to the breaking point with the expectations being placed on them. Adolescent anxiety is a very real problem facing an increasing number of students, but many have difficulty identifying these emotions that effect their mental health on a daily basis. Most high school students could benefit from instruction and development of the emotional wellness tools needed to get through the very difficult experiences they are faced with at this age.
According to UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center, mindfulness practices in educational settings have a direct correlation to decreased anxiety, improved social skills and self-regulation, and reduced symptoms associated with ADHD.
Using methods recommended by the Born This Way Foundation, students will have an opportunity to develop greater depths of calmness and self-awareness, and will help to cultivate lovingkindness for others.
In Their Own Words
We want to make a space at school that students can come to relax and meditate. It will be a calm space with diffusers for aromatherapy, a projector that makes you feel like you are under the water, and music that guides people through meditation. We want other students to know that there is a place at school they can go if they are feeling overwhelmed.
I have had ADHD since elementary school, so I know how important it is to be able to manage my stress and calm down, and I hope I can help others manage theirs. I have taken classes about mindfulness to learn how to use meditation when I am at school. Now that I know how much it helps me, I want to teach other kids how to do it too. I hope to make a space in our classroom where I can teach everyone about mindfulness. We found a bunch of things to create a tranquil space with sight, sound, smell, and touch. In this space, students will be comfortable to talk about their mental health and feelings. My goal with this space is to make everyone comfortable so that they can express themselves freely and without judgment.
This project is extremely important to me because I had ADHD and mental health issues for a long time and felt like I had no-one to turn to. Because I didn't know how to express or feel comfortable sharing my emotions, I kept them bottled up for a long time. I know other people at school are going through the same thing and I want to help all the other people who need guidance, but don't know how to get it. The Born This Way Foundation has found that California high schoolers are more stressed than their peers, but this stress is being underestimated by parents. Having a space at school dedicated to supporting mental health and well being will help students to lead more positive lives.
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