Program aims to help students fight stress

Photo by Valeria Ushakova of Pexels

MASSENA — The Massena Central School Districts hopes to bring a program into the schools to help students cope with the trauma and stress they may be feeling in today’s world.

Kristin Colarusso-Martin, the district’s community schools director, is seeking grant funding that, for just under $50,000, would allow them to partner with the Akwesasne Holistic Life Foundation to bring mindfulness to students. According to its website, the Holistic Life Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is “committed to nurturing the wellness of children and adults in underserved communities,” through yoga, mindfulness and self-care.

“We’re partnering with the Massena Federation of Teachers to supplement the grant,” Ms. Colarusso-Martin told board of education members.

Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which a person focuses on being intensely aware of what they’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

The Massena Central program would help students “deal with trauma and stress in the environment we’re all living in,” Ms. Colarusso-Martin said.

“We talk a lot about it. This is a really nice opportunity to bring it to our school,” she said.

The grant would allow the district to implement a Mindful Moment program at each of its five schools. Mindful Moment is an in-school program for students and staff that integrates mindfulness practice into the school day and provides a safe space for students who need to calm down and regain control of their emotions.

“What we’d like to do is apply for this one-year grant to be able to bring two practitioners into the Massena Central School District,” Ms. Colarusso-Martin said.

She said the practitioners would work with the students for five hours a day, five days a week. A resource room or other available space could be used as the safe space.

She said another part of the grant would allow the practitioners to identify students who have an interest in mindfulness, and who could form a group.

Ms. Colarusso-Martin said the one-year program could lead to a five-year grant so students would continue to develop their skills and mindfulness during their school journey.

“It would be a nice opportunity to partner with Akwesasne,” she said.

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