With the school year getting busier, a new Relaxation Room at Wilma's Place is giving staff and students a moment to de-stress and recharge.
Piloted by Social Worker Kelly Duffy-Kariam, the all-inclusive room was designed with mental well-being in mind, promoting relaxation and self-care.
Every lunch period, students are invited to visit the transformed classroom which offers a rotating selection of calming music and projected inspiring images for them to reflect on. There, students are free to work on homework, colour on provided sheets, or just hang out with friends.
Having a Relaxation Room at the school is vital for student achievement, said Principal Martin Helling.
"As teachers we often focus on students who are in more obvious need of an outlet for extra energy and ways to help them calm down. We allow students during lunch time to play basketball and many students find this as a good outlet and a motivating reason to come to school. However, we have many students who suffer from anxiety and other conditions that prevent them from being comfortable in their own skin. We have found that setting up and maintaining a Relaxation Room at lunch time is an excellent outlet for students who need to relieve anxiety and stress."
The benefits, however, extend far beyond the classroom walls, said Duffy-Kariam, who noted that activities inside the classroom can be adapted to use at home.
"These are things students can take and do outside of here," she said. "Listening to nice music on their phones, relaxing... it's simple things that can be transferred and implemented into daily life."
In addition to promoting mental health in the Relaxation Room, each of the classrooms have packages with adult colouring books, that students are free to use when they need to clear their mind.
"Students find it soothing," said Duffy-Kariam, who hopes to expand new mental well-being initiatives throughout the school.
But for now, the feedback has been all positive, as students appreciate the room to wind-down and refocus for the day ahead.
"Research indicates that taking a time-out to pause, reflect and breathe decreases anxiety, contributes to positive thinking and increases energy," she said.
"Even if it's for a minute. Just to go in there and experience the room."