Each year the counseling department addresses a significant amount of stress related concerns in our students. Friendships and social experiences are challenged when stress levels rise. This often leads to misperceptions in communication and/or lack of communication that leads to assumptions. In both middle and elementary school when communication breaks down, rumors spread faster and friendships/relationships are challenged. The challenge has been how to address both the stress, which is very real for the students, and its effect on their relationships with those that they count on for support every day.
Brain scans suggest that by engaging in support giving activities for others, participants experience reduced activation in brain areas related to stress responses. In addition they
develop a sense of empowerment and belonging when they unite in support of a common cause. This sense of belonging leaves children more relaxed, happier and they experience fewer behavior concerns. Meanwhile, gratitude has distinctive brain benefits for the receiver of social support. Children need to feel that their world is a safe place. They need to know they’re cared for, that their needs are met, and that they can get help to work out problems. Children develop a sense of belonging when they receive these things, which improves their mental health and learning.
Partnerships create a relationship of reciprocity. The children who are on the receiving end are empowered to find a way to help out as well and the children who are helping receive all of the benefits of service mentioned above. We are working on developing a partnership between Socrates Academy and Veritas Community School, another charter school in Charlotte. To kick off this partnership we are holding a school wide food drive. Here is a little bit about the school:
When we asked Veritas to tell us about themselves, this is what they said, "Veritas is based upon three pillars: strong academics, health and wellness, and peaceful classrooms. We are in our third school year and are growing each year. We have many, many students who come to school each day that are facing serious adversity and trauma, and yet they are here every day. We work hard every day to meet our students and family needs, striving to create an environment that is nurturing, kind and welcoming. We have a true diversity of students, encompassing all races/ethnicities, economic backgrounds, education levels and family structures.
52% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Food insecurity is an issue for many of our families. We have begun a donation-based food pantry this school year and are able to send home a small bag of groceries every-other week for ten families. We could easily quadruple that number if we had the food donations or could find a sponsor(s) to fund/donate food items on a regular basis."
At Socrates, our goal is to fill their food pantry so that they have the supplies needed for their food insecure families for the summer. We will collect toiletries and school supplies in the fall so that the staff at Veritas can set their students up for success as they settle back into school. Your students will have the opportunity to earn prizes for the classes with the most supplies donated for each week.
If this is not something that you feel you can help with right now, don’t worry! We will have ongoing opportunities throughout this school year and next. We also hope to engage in some combined projects like reading buddies, arts and crafts dates, gardening, etc. We will be looking to the students for more ideas.
Here are some links to some video clips that your children will see throughout the next couple of weeks:
We encourage you to watch these if you have time so that you can talk about this project with your children and share in their experience.