Lessons from mindfulness club help students cope with stress during pandemic

ELKINS PARK, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- When teachers at McKinley Elementary School in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania started the Mindfulness Club earlier this school year, they had no way of knowing how useful these strategies would become.

These days, 4th grader Maelle Starke has settled into remote learning as best she can.

"Well, it's been a little bit hectic," Starke said. "It's kind of hard because I have to be working up in the attic with my dad all the time, and he's like always up here on calls."

Starke learned strategies in Mindfulness Club that have helped her adjust.

"The teachers taught me that even if I'm stressed, I can calm down, forget what I was stressed about, and keep going and try to work back up to it," said Starke.

Action News had visited a club meeting on March 12. No one knew that it would be held on the last day of in-school learning.

School shut down, and the original story never aired. But the activities remain extremely relevant.

"For children to be able to learn and for us to be able to help them learn, we need to be in a healthy frame of mind. Mindfulness activities are a great way to decompress and reduce anxiety," said Judy Bomze, director of Student Services at Abington School District.

The club met once a week, helping students develop tools to regulate their emotions and improve focus.

"We kind of want to equip the students with some things in their tool belt," first-grade teacher Danielle Curran said.

Teacher Tamika Holland helped start the club. She has since posted videos to help guide students amid this uncertainty.

"It's really important to try to start each and every day on a positive note," Holland said. "When you have emotions, it's really important to identify them and just realize that it's going to get better and we're going to figure this out together."

The school district is providing mindfulness and coping resources for all of their families to use at home.

The school hopes to resume in-person club meetings next year.
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