Today’s students face a lot of competition for their attention both inside and outside the classroom.
There’s gaming devices and television, not to mention social media and cell phones.
Also adding stress to their young lives are common experiences like peer pressure and the need for acceptance, let alone the everyday challenges they may face at home.
All these factors impact their mental health and well-being.
While not common to most public school systems, there is considerable value in specific curriculum that reduces stress and promotes mental and emotional health.
Stress management techniques are a particularly good fit for Flint students, who are part of a larger community impacted by lead exposure.
Children absorb four to five times as much lead as adults, infants and young children, especially those younger than five, who are most susceptible to lead absorption. Even at low, short-term levels of lead exposure, lead can lower the IQ and has been linked with Attention Deficit Disorder, aggression and many other disorders, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
While many dietary initiatives are well underway to help ensure households receive food that limits the absorption of lead in the body, adequate nutrition is only one of a number of vital measures that must be implemented to maintain family health.
Students also need someone or something to help them manage their stress.
Thankfully, Health Alliance Plan (HAP) and Crim Fitness Foundation are stepping in to assist with other equally important issues, like mental health and well-being.
Already winning accolades for its adaptation of meditation exercises for students, CrimFit Mindfulness received a $25,000 boost from HAP to expand its program. Described as “thinking, on purpose,” Mindfulness training is CrimFit’s tool for helping youth improve their ability to focus, contributing to academic achievement and positive decision-making.
The Mindfulness program, which is also available to adults, reduces tension and helps students improve focus and concentration, which positively impacts their ability to learn. Teaching students how to release stress also has immeasurable benefits both in school and at home.
The partnership between HAP and Crim Fitness Foundation is helping mitigate anxiety and stress at a time when such support is desperately needed.
Other initiatives are underway. Testing water filters, providing easy access to fresh foods through mobile food pantries, adding dairy to and the expansion of the Double Up Food Bucks program, and elevated communication efforts are all contributing toward positive progress.
Of course, more strategies and resources are needed, but with each small step forward, Flint residents move closer to recovery. Now that’s a purpose worth supporting.