Pentwater Schools address students’ mental health

March 17, 2022

Pentwater Schools address students’ mental health

By Kim Beardslee, Correspondent. 

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press. 

PENTWATER — Most people are familiar with the concern surrounding students’ mental health, particularly related to many school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  defines children’s mental health as, “an important part of children’s overall health and well-being. Mental health includes children’s mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being. It affects how children think, feel, and act. It also plays a role in how children handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.”

In order to address these concerns, Pentwater Public Schools Vice Principal Lisa Wagner recently met with community members, parents and counselors in order to explore opportunities for students to “nurture an awareness of mindful practices in all ages with aims to create a life-long interest and engagement in whole self wellness.” Pentwater students have been provided time this month with opportunities to engage in activities that could lead to the support of this mission.

On March 3, the elementary students spent the morning participating in student mental health activities such as crochet/making a barefoot sandal, storybook village, music and rhythm, sensory, and building with items such as Legos or magnetic blocks. Prior to beginning the activity schedule, students were gathered in the gymnasium to be reminded with a deep breathing activity and a short story that supported that “Calm Bodies and Minds” are a state of well-being.

middle school and high school students participated in their morning-long student mental health activities on Tuesday, March 8. Their Student Mental Health Day began with a local motivational speaker, Hailey Yatros who shared information and reinforced the need to incorporate healthy lifestyle activities in one’s daily life during her 45-minute presentation. From there, students rotated through activities such as a room where students were able to learn the basics of calligraphy and decorative embroidery, a room for rock painting in which students painted positive messages on rocks to be placed throughout the Pentwater community, a board game room (Clue,Yahtzee, Uno, etc). Students also participated in exotic animal exploration led by a former student who brought in her unusual collection (Colombian red tail boa, uromastyx, Russian tortoise, baby Jackson’s chameleon, Pueblan milk snake, and a Madagascar hissing cockroach). This educational day also provided an opportunity to get information directly from District 10 Health Department and West Michigan Community Mental Health via information booths and for an extra treat, Peterson Farms provided frozen fruit in order to produce a healthy snack in the form of smoothies for students.

Although the Pentwater School has been able to support student mental health awareness within the district, Wagner said she hopes to expand activities to support student mental health through the pursuit of grant monies and continued conversation and strategic planning.  Her hope is to further promote mindfulness experiences, not connected to technology, which would lead to healthy adult mindsets within the community.

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