For All Seasons’ Center for Learning recently sponsored outreach at Easton Elementary School in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month. Staff provided teachers at the school with engaging classroom activities, developed for grades one through five, focused on “Being Kind to Your Mind” – helping students learn how to care for their mental health, as well as how to make smart choices online and reduce online stress.
According to Lauren Weber, Vice President for Philanthropy and Education at For All Seasons, there are several important reasons why the Center is sharing these lessons with local schools. She comments, “The out-of-school summer months can be a fun and relaxing time for many children and their families. For many children, though, summertime means less structure and fewer social interactions in-person with peers, which can lead to a feeling of disconnection. We also know kids tend to spend more time on various screens and devices and want to encourage responsible use of gaming, social media, and the Internet – to help reduce the stress that we know excessive hours online causes kids. Their mental health is often affected in the summer by these factors and more.”
In addition, For All Seasons is part of the Maryland Regional Navigator Program, providing support to human trafficking survivors and their families, as well as community outreach and awareness. Weber adds, “Our program has us looking more carefully at risk factors for kids when it comes to trafficking. Online predators are skilled at hiding their identities. We know that kids often share personal photos and private information and/or connect with people they do not know, so we want to start at the ground level helping parents and kids make smart choices online and enjoy their time online safely.”
For All Seasons, as well as local law enforcement, are continuing to see local cases of adolescents who are sharing personal information online and meeting up with child predators.
Among the activities shared with Easton Elementary School students, included a lesson and an interactive activity for grades one through three which focused on “Be Kind to Your Mind,” aimed at helping students learn the basics of mental health and identify which trusted adults in their lives they can turn to for help. For All Seasons also provided two activities for online safety – one activity for students in the first through third grades and one activity for students in the fourth through fifth grades. Both lessons were age-appropriate and taught the importance of safely engaging with others online, considering what information is public versus private, and reinforcing the importance of only communicating with others they already know in real life. Each lesson also emphasized the role of turning to trusted adults for guidance and support when young people feel confused or anxious. Lesson materials were provided to both teachers and students. A bi-lingual (English/Spanish) letter was also sent to parents so that they could extend the learning at home.
“The partnership between Easton Elementary School and For All Seasons helps fill a critical need for mental health support for our students and families. For All Seasons’ commitment to understanding the needs of the community is instrumental in creating a safe space for our families. The bracelets are a great physical reminder for students to help use the tools they learn daily at school to help them with their self-regulation. The bracelet’s message ‘Be Kind to Your Mind’ helps normalize the importance for students to take care of their mental health in a fun, age-appropriate way,” states Katie Fox, Community School Program Manager, Easton Elementary School.
Students also participated in For All Seasons “Spread Joy Confetti Challenge” – a fun outdoor challenge to kick off the mental health awareness activities.
“We know that acts of silliness boost our mental health. And the ‘Confetti Challenge’ serves as a visual reminder to have fun and spread joy. After gathering outdoors at the school, our staff provided confetti for the students and teachers. On the count of three, everyone threw their handfuls of confetti up in the air and committed to taking care of their mental health and spreading joy this summer,” Weber explains.
For All Seasons offered the “Confetti Challenge” to teachers and students across the Mid-Shore. In addition, this year, For All Seasons provided wristbands for everyone at Easton Elementary School with the words “Be Kind to Your Mind” that were distributed after the lessons as a reminder for students to take care of their mental health this summer and beyond.
For further information about For All Seasons Center for Learning and its educational programs, contact Lauren Weber, Vice President for Philanthropy and Education at For All Seasons at [email protected] or call 410-822-1018 or visit forallseasonsinc.org.
For All Seasons provides the highest quality mental health and victim services to children, adults, and families across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Services are offered in both English and Spanish and include therapy, psychiatry, victim advocacy, 24-hour crisis hotlines, outreach, and community education. For further information, contact For All Seasons at 410-822-1018 or visit forallseasonsinc.org.