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North Bellmore schools promote personal wellness

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The North Bellmore School District promoted healthy minds and bodies throughout May, with virtual activities ranging from Parent University workshops to Wellness Day.

         As May is national Mental Health Awareness Month, the district hosted several virtual sessions as part of its Parent University program. Topics included parenting through crisis, coping with the stressors and unknowns of the new normal, mental health literacy for parents, promoting resiliency in schools, becoming a resilient family amid Covid-19 and your children’s mental health.

Among the agencies North Bellmore partnered with to offer the online workshops were the Long Island Crisis Center, Mental Health Association of Nassau County, Mental Health Association in New York State, and North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center. The district also offered free telephone chats with licensed mental health professionals through Western Suffolk BOCES, and provided parents with contacts for numerous mental health support agencies on Long Island.

“Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to support one another so that we can best support our children,” Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Janet Pollitt said.

May 22 marked Wellness Day in North Bellmore. Students were asked to do at least one activity from each of five categories – mindfulness, healthy habits, connection, gratitude and nature – from the Wellness Day choice board. Using the digital learning platform Seesaw, they could post the activities they did, in addition to sharing photos there and on Twitter.

The district’s music teachers also created a mindful music activity, encouraging students to play their favorite songs or albums, listening closely to the lyrics and their meaning, being mindful of each word and phrase, and paying attention to the sounds of the different instruments to make new musical discoveries.

One popular activity from the choice board was gratitude jars, so children could reflect on their many reasons to be thankful. Several teachers at Newbridge Road Elementary School had their students create virtual gratitude jars. Second grade teacher Jennifer Campbell-Toomb asked each child to pick two things, but they all went above and beyond, filling up their jars.

“I just wanted them to focus on the positive and be thankful for what they have,” she said, noting students were grateful for their family, friends, pets, teachers, health and more.

Fifth grade teacher Karen Barrins and her students participated in a Zoom chat to talk about the meaning of gratitude and discuss how giving thanks and focusing on the positive can have a profound impact. She said the gratitude jars will serve as a visual reminder of all the “good things in their lives” and are something they can dip into at any time when they need a lift.  

Ms. Barrins noted that many Wellness Day activities promoted personal well-being without the use of any technology, from writing sidewalk chalk messages to going on a nature scavenger hunt to eating mindfully.

“Taking the time to be focused upon striving to be healthy in body and mind by disconnecting from our devices in order to reconnect is a true gift,” Barrins said.

- Compiled by Tony Bellissimo