CARLETON – Mounds of glitter bubbled to the surface as students from airport community schools shook jars filled with unique blends of varying colors, shapes and textures.
In an effort to get the perfect concoctions, students made selections to customize their “Bottles of Calm,” an activity offered at the district’s recent “Awareness Around the World” event. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month celebrated in May, the Monroe County Intermediate School District (MCIDD) has empowered young people to create tools to help them regulate their emotions.
“When you’re overwhelmed, your thoughts are everywhere, so if you shake the jar and watch until the bottle empties, it helps calm you down…taking a minute to clear your brain and regroup” , explained Angie Hodges, MCISD social worker.
The still bottles were just one step in the visitors’ figurative journey through the world of services offered by the Airport Community Schools and the community to support struggling students. In partnership with the Airport Parent Support Committee and MCISD, the event was intended to celebrate struggling students and the services offered by the district to support these varying abilities.
Previous report:May 4 family event focuses on people with difficulties
Through 20 interactive and informative stations, attendees earned a series of passport stamps while learning more about district and community resources ranging from therapy options, mental health supports, and other health services. special education.
“I think it’s a fun event and brings some of the community together to tell them about students with special needs,” said Yvette Vajcner, parent of three students from Wagar High School. “It really opens up that dialogue between families. I had never heard of these types of resources until I had a child with special needs myself. »
Families were drawn to the event by a petting zoo located outside the airport secondary school, organized by the school’s FFA. Horses, sheep, goats, rabbits and ducks were among the animals on display, many of which are commonly used in pet therapy for children with special needs.
Inside the high school gymnasium, interactive stations were hosted by many airport and ISD staff, including assistive technology consultants, resource room teachers , early childhood staff, speech language pathologists, social workers, occupational therapists, food service staff and others.
Community partners from Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Monroe Autism Collaborative, Monroe Mental Health Authority, Family Medical Center, MCISD Transition Center, Monroe County Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Mimi Mission were also involved.
In addition to providing information material, the organizations offered a sensory trail, games, snacks and the possibility of winning prizes.
The high school PILOT program, for example, offered “Minute-to-Win-It” games, mirroring activities that the peer group often enjoys during their weekly meetings. PILOT stands for Peers Investing in the Lives of Other Teens, and the group is used to teach typically developing peers ways to interact with, help, and build friendships with students with disabilities.
The airport’s food service provider, Chartwells, also manned a stand with snack options suitable for those with food allergies or sensitivities.
“I will definitely do my part to help and spread awareness of all the valuable resources that are available,” said Michelle McCoy, a math teacher from Wagar who attended the event. “I personally wish I had time to stay longer because I think there would have been resources there that I would have liked to speak with.”
Caitlin Boron is Communications Coordinator with Airport Community Schools.