NEW ALBANY — A local school district is hoping to provide some relief to students, parents and teachers during a stressful time.
Last week, the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. released its free “Virtual Calm Room,” which features a collection of resources meant to help people cope with their emotions and care for their mental health during challenging times. The website was developed by Kendra Needham, a school social worker at Green Valley Elementary.
The free tools featured on the website include calming sounds/music, visual relaxation, guided breathing/meditation practices and smartphone apps recommendations. The website also includes a list of contacts for local therapy services, community resources and school social workers.
Needham said she found the idea for the calm room as part of social media groups with school social workers from around the country, and she wanted to offer the resources for local schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She developed the website following conversations with other NAFC social workers.
“I really wanted to make sure it would be accessible to all ages,” she said. That was kind of my biggest thing, because it felt like kids all the way from preschool to some of parents and teachers would want to utilize.”
So far, the calm room has been used by both kids and adults who are feeling overwhelmed. People have been making major adjustments during the pandemic, including teachers working at home while caring for their own kids and parents away at work while kids learn from home, and the lack of structure can be stressful for students, Needham said.
“I’ve received pretty good feedback,” she said. “Teachers are using it sitting at home with their own children to have a little peace and relaxation. Guidance counselors are listening to rain noises and saying it’s great to be at peace in the office.”
Through the calm room, kids could learn breathing exercises by watching an instructional video with Elmo, and adults might relax on a rainy day by watching and/or listening to a video of a campfire, she said.
There are plenty of soothing videos and audio tracks for those who want to relax, and for those who want to stay active, they can watch a guided yoga practice. There are also live-streamed videos from zoos that Needham finds particularly enjoyable.
She has continued to connect with families and teachers to offer support during the pandemic, and she hopes the calm room is another resource to help them during tough times.
“When school is in session and parents and students are struggling, they usually come to us and we talk face-to-face,” Needham said. “That’s hard to do right now, and pretty frowned upon, so to be able to have a go-to that everyone can use is going to be helpful during this time.”
Visit https://soinsocialwork.wixsite.com/virtualcalmroom to explore the calm room.