In today’s fast-paced and demanding educational landscape, Lake Washington Schools Foundation is more committed than ever to support student mental wellness. Through a collaborative effort with high school counselors, the Foundation has recently provided funding to an impactful initiative known as “Calming Corners” at high schools across the district. This project has created or enhanced designated spaces within LWSD high schools where students can retreat, recharge, and find solace amid the daily pressures they face.
The Importance of Calming Corners
High school can be a challenging time for students, with academic pressures, social dynamics, and personal issues often causing stress and anxiety. Through conversations with high school counselors, it became evident that safe spaces were needed to allow students to decompress and manage their emotions, but funding to make or enhance these spaces a reality was needed.
Collaboration and Implementation
The team at Balance In Mind, a program of LWSF, partnered with counselors to bring the Calming Corners project to life. Five high schools—Eastlake High School, Emerson High School, Juanita High School, International Community School, and Redmond High School—became the initial beneficiaries of this project. The Balance In Mind volunteers worked closely with counselors to select and purchase various items, including beanbag chairs, rugs, shelves, sensory fidgets, galaxy projectors, coloring books and pencils, headphones, inspirational posters, aromatherapy diffusers, noise machines, and more.
Student Involvement and Ownership
An essential aspect of the Calming Corners project was student involvement. Recognizing the importance of student input, some counselors provided opportunities for students to propose items they believed would enhance the calming and welcoming atmosphere. This inclusive approach not only empowered students but also ensured that the spaces were tailored to their unique needs and preferences.
The success of the Calming Corners project is best captured through the inspiring feedback received from high school counselors:
- “Your support really helped bring our vision to life, and our students are putting it to good use!”
- “We use this room often and daily, for our students that have anxiety, mental health needs or desire a safe and calm space to collect their emotions and thoughts to be able to go back to class.”
- “Our students loved the opportunity to propose items that they thought would make this a calm and welcoming space!”
These quotes from school counselors serve as a testament to the profound effect the Calming Corners have had on students’ well-being and their enthusiastic engagement in creating these nurturing environments.
The Calming Corners project was funded in part by a generous donation from the Lake Washington PTSA Council, a longstanding partner of the Foundation dedicated to child advocacy in Washington State. Their invaluable contributions have made it possible to provide these essential spaces for student well-being.
With the success of the initial phase of this project, LWSF plans to support and supplement these spaces in the 2023-2024 school year. By continually investing in student well-being and providing them with the resources they need to thrive, the Foundation strives to build a future where students in the Lake Washington School District can flourish in a supportive and nurturing educational environment.