South Orangetown Central School District

CLE Children's Mental Health Awareness Week

This week, William O. Schaefer Elementary School and Cottage Lane Elementary School have been recognizing Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week through a variety of activities—ranging from recess activities focused on mindfulness to spirit days that correspond with the colors of the mood meter.

“Each year, we recognize Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week to raise awareness, reduce stigma and encourage early intervention. Starting in kindergarten, students are taught about the importance of expressing their emotions by being exposed to the RULER program. Each day WOS and CLE teachers reinforce the program through morning meetings, but as students grow and develop, worries and anxiety start to become more prevalent,” explained CLE School Counselor Stephanie Chahales. “Children also start to become more concerned about what others think of them. I think it’s important to remind students that we all have mental health, all feelings are ok and that there are things to do to help us when we have a big feeling.”

CLE School Counselor Stephanie Chahales has been hosting activities for students to participate in during recess to work on practicing stress reduction techniques. This has included collaborative mindful coloring, practicing mindful breathing by blowing bubbles and how to show gratitude. “We consistently talk about using our toolbox of strategies (breathing, coloring, talking to an adult or friend, gratitude, etc.) when we are feeling stressed, anxious or worried. The recess activities reinforce the strategies they are taught inside and outside of the classroom in a fun and non-judgmental way,” explained Chahales.

In addition to the recess activities and spirit days, WOS School Counselor Tennille Marino and Chahales shared resources with all teachers so they could talk about mental health with their classes. The presentations featured activities, videos and “turn and talk” questions that focused on the emotions that make up the mood meter.