Midway Opens Calm Room
Posted on 05/03/23
Post-pandemic, kids and teens are continuing to deal with a lot as the world returns to a more normal routine. This year at Midway High School, there's a new addition to help students deal with their anxiety and stress. The effort was led by school counselors Larinda Haight and Jessica Tyndall.
In mid-January, office space in the school counselors' department was converted into a Calm Room that students can visit during the day if they're feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious. “We had two staff members in the counseling department volunteer to combine offices so we could open up a calm room,” said Haight.
“As school counselors, we saw first-hand the need and I feel like our students greatly benefit from having somewhere to go when they need a break,” said Tyndall.
The calm room has come together thanks to donations from an Amazon Wish List the school posted on its Facebook page. Donors ranged from alumni, community members, and current and former teachers. “The community really came together to support this effort,” said Tyndall.
“This is a space that's been designated by our administrative team for students to come and find a place of quiet and peace, and spend 10 to 15, maybe 30 minutes here and then return back to class,” said Haight.
Having a quiet, safe space to retreat helps students develop their coping skills, become more self-aware, resilient, and manage their emotions. The room is always supervised by a school counselor and students are never left unattended.
The room is not meant as a hang-out spot for friends to coordinate meet-up times or skip class and is not used as punishment or discipline. The space is for individual reflection and healthy self-intervention.
Students can be referred by their teacher or decide for themselves at any point in the day if they need to go to the calm room in order to process or regulate their emotions or feelings. A student is required to sign in with a counselor before using the room. The counselor checks in with the student every few minutes, ensuring they are safe. A change in environment, such as going to a calm room, can decrease anxiety and allow the student to calm down without feeling isolated from their class.
Haight notes, “Sometimes we have a student that wants to have additional conversations with us after they leave the calm room. Other times, the student will work through their feelings in the calm room and are comfortable returning to their class.”
The school has had over 50 students visit the calm room since the end of February when the room officially opened. It offers a variety of things conducive to relaxation, such as comfortable furnishings, soft, plush fabrics, active seating that students can rock or sway on, low lighting, things to fidget with and distract an anxious mind, such as fidget toys, stress balls, puzzles, and coloring pages, and a white noise sound machine donated by Sampson County Schools’ Project Activate program.
"I love the calm room! It's a beautiful safe space for when I am anxious or just need to be away from people for a second. I feel safer going to school knowing there is a place if I need it. I love all of the different activities and furniture so it can fit everyone's needs. My personal favorites are coloring books, colored lights, Pop-Its, and the swinging chair,” shared a student who had visited the calm room.
Midway High Principal Gaynor Hammond says, “I am so proud of Mrs. Haight and Mrs. Tyndall for their vision and leadership in developing, designing, and implementing the calm room for our students. Their persistence in providing this much-needed calm, safe environment for our students has proved to be essential for our student's overall well-being."