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Glen Brae Middle School “Chill Zone”

Posted on Thursday, June 15, 2017

When: Grand Opening: May 4, 2017

Target Age/Grades: 6, 7 & 8

Goals:

  • Students will utilize the space to calm and self-regulate throughout the school day.
  • For students to begin to identify the signs of anxiety.
  • For students to become more self aware.
  • For students to go to a safe place, implement self regulation skills, seek support, and then return to class.
  • To decrease office referrals.
  • To increase attendance.
  •         To increase in-class time.

What:

Many students of Glen Brae struggle daily to cope with their emotions due to family situations, trauma, mental health concerns and peer relationships. These situations impact students’ ability to develop positive relationships, communicate their needs, and identify their emotions. Because of these challenges, students are at risk of academic failure. It is our hope to provide the students of Glen Brae with an alternative setting to develop skills that will support them in their success.

This initiative is aimed at providing students who are unable to cope with emotions throughout the school day, a method to develop skills that will decrease office referrals, increase attendance, and ensure academic success. Overall academic success is linked with mental-health and wellbeing and a successful future beyond the elementary level.

As students begin to develop self-regulation skills, they will begin to become more successful in school, improve relationships and begin using common language to identify needs and ask for help when needed. These skills will be transferred to the classroom, the family environment, and the community. Our hope is to create a healthier community, minimizing the risks associated with mental health and wellbeing.

In line with many other HWDSB schools, we created a positive, safe environment in which students can use the space for calming, self regulation, and mindfulness practices. As a multi-purpose space, the room incorporates unique areas that include:

  1. soft/comfortable/alternative seating, low lighting, soft music, carpeting and pillows
  2. quiet work spaces
  3. calming and self regulation tools such as fidget toys, stress balls and other materials and tools for self regulation purposes
  4. Activities for group engagement and unstructured time such as board games and literacy materials
  5. supportive staff available to provide coaching, guidance, and supervision

The space is available to all students throughout the academic day, as well as unstructured time and provides a variety of materials to meet a variety of needs.

Within the space, students have the opportunity to utilize self regulation and calming skills to overcome behavioral challenges, anxiety, daily stressors, and emotional challenges, to successfully return to the academic environment.

Within the space, programs such as The Zones of Regulation, CPS and MindUP are incorporated to provide self-regulation, conflict resolution and Mindfulness Skills under the guidance of school support staff.

Activities to support the positive use of unstructured time are available such as board games, literacy materials, ipads and art materials.

The room incorporates the use of common language that will be transferred into classrooms and unstructured time throughout the academic day.

***This initiative was made possible by a grant from the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton!

Impact:

  • ” The Chill Zone provides a welcoming, calming and positive environment for students struggling with anxiety.”
  • ” Students are able to self regulate in an environment where they are supported.”
  • ” The physical space of the Chill Zone is calming and soothing. It’s a beautiful space that feels spa like!”
  • ” Amanda Zavarella has created a space for those students who need a different environment in order to be successful.” 
  • ” Thanks so much to Amanda Zavarella for all the hard work that went into obtaining the grant that made this initiative possible.”
  • ” This space has made the difference between students remaining at school and being successful versus being sent home.” 
  • “You can physically see student tension decrease as they enter the Chill Zone.” 

For more information contact:

Amanda Zavarella

azavarel@hwdsb.on.ca

 

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