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Articles: Health & Wellness

Districts are building supports for students in foster care—from raising awareness, providing PD and creating special programs to adding specialized staff and even running permanent group homes.

Betsy Hanger, an instructor with the nonprofit Mindful Schools, describes what mindfulness looks like as elementary students age.

FINDING INNER PEACE—Students in summer school at McKinley-Brighton Elementary in Syracuse, New York, practice mindfulness and yoga for 30 minutes every day.

But this only works if students practice mindfulness daily, and they do during summer school at a Syracuse, New York, elementary. Schools can change a punitive culture by training teachers to practice mindfulness and meditation, too.

Source: gettyimages.com: ostapenkoolena

Here are seven more strategies from the National Association of School Psychologists for dealing with counseling shortages.

The school psychologist shortage rages on, but districts are exploring nontraditional options to provide comprehensive care to all students.

Lori Koerner is the principal at Tremont Elementary, part of the Patchogue-Medford School District in New York.

We must offer students ample time for recess and brain breaks to help them to develop social competencies and to optimize attention to learning. As a result, students will be better able to perform their academic tasks.

John Auerbach (left) is president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health. Benjamin F. Miller is the chief strategy officer for Well Being Trust.

Educators and the community play key roles in steering K12 students away from risky behaviors.

To engage students with diverse interests, high schools are adding nontraditional sports such as flag football, bass fishing, sand volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, orienteering and esports, to their lineups.

A flexible plastic box printed from a school’s 3D printer could hold the answer to keeping first responders safe from exposed needles in the midst of an opioid epidemic that has affected communities nationwide.

Over the course of four months, a group of design/modeling students at Ashland Middle School in Kentucky created the needle retriever prototype, incorporating feedback from local police chiefs, health departments and other emergency personnel. Technology educators at Shawnee State University taught students about how the box could be mass produced.

This spring, schools have experienced a profound increase in student suicides and attempts, as well as school shootings. Recognize that as bad as things have been this spring, things are likely to be worse next fall. Contention over race, origin, LGBTQ, and sexual assault/harassment will increase, along with contention over gun control in the context of a focus on school shootings. Schools must be prepared to go into the 2018-19 school year.

These district solutions serve as models for other districts, and cover the K12 spectrum, from English language learners to dropout prevention to data-driven decision-making to water conservation.

The 45 schools and systems recognized by this year’s District of Distinction program have created homegrown initiatives to support students’ social-emotional development, to provide powerful new opportunities for career-focused STEM learning and to improve the skills of educators.

Across the US, the number of teen suicides has risen dramatically over the years. Whether it’s the stress of high-level courses or the anxiety of divorcing parents, a staggering amount of students are overcrowding school counseling centers, says Psychology Today. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 teenagers and young adults suffer from mental illness.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids hopes the federal government will take stronger action to restrict sales of the devices, such as raising the legal purchasing age to 21. (Gettyimages: martinedoucet).

District leaders have taken a wide range of responses to curb the alarming increase in students’ use of vaping devices and e-cigarettes.

Educators and psychologists propose a host of explanations for the apparent uptick in student anxiety. Some point to public events – terrorism, school shootings, opioid addiction, the coarsening of political discourse in the age of Trump.

Others blame technology—devices that substitute electronic contact for face-to-face interaction, and social media that transform school-hours drama into a 24-7 preoccupation.

Still others look to family dysfunction, or pressure to match parental achievements. “The anxiety comes from so many different sources.

the best medicine—A “laughter yoga” session reduces student stress in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in New Jersey. The district has also provided PD to show teachers how to conduct meditation and breathing exercises to ease their own and students’ anxiety.

Across the country, districts are grappling with rising levels of student anxiety attributed to everything from academic pressures to larger social forces. 

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