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Woodsdale Elementary Hosts ‘Mental Health Field Day’

photo by: Photo by Joselyn King

Savannah Cook, a kindergarten student at Woodsdale Elementary School, participates in yoga during a mental health fair Friday at the school.

WHEELING – It’s not just adults who struggle with mental health issues and stress brought on by daily life challenges, school officials have learned.

Woodsdale Elementary School on Friday hosted a “Mental Health Field Day” for students. In the gym, kindergarten students could be seen participating in yoga exercises led by Kathleen Wack, associate professor of health and physical education at West Liberty University.

Next door, Ron Scott, director of cultural diversity and community outreach at the Wheeling YWCA, spoke to students about how having a positive attitude can make each day a great day.

The event would last throughout the day as students moved from one activity to the next, school counselor Allyson Kangisser explained.

“This day is really important to me and my co-workers because we want to make kids know mental health is not scary,” she said. “It can be fun. It’s important to learn about it.

photo by: Photo by Joselyn King

Savannah Cook, a kindergarten student at Woodsdale Elementary School, participates in yoga during a mental health fair Friday at the school.

“Then if something does come up that’s scary or sad, they can come talk to us because it’s something we talk about regularly.”

Kangisser added students may feel “indifferent” about some of the lessons, but overall they enjoy the day.

“It’s a day when they are not in class all day, but are moving around and learning new things,” she said.

The present time is a very stressful time for children, according to Kangisser.

“Our society is definitely going through a lot of things right now,” she said. “The kids are definitely needing support, and we are doing our best to give it to them. We are having a mental health fair, having fun and talking about it regularly. So, if something does come up, they know we are here to support them.”

photo by: Photo by Joselyn King

Clair Bush, a student at Woodsdale Elementary School, participates in yoga during a mental health fair Friday at the school.

Everyone goes through some hard things in their life, Kangisser continued. Children may experience their parents’ divorce, a loss of a grandparent or a change in school.

“Whatever is going on that is challenging, we want them to know those feelings are OK, and that we are here to support them through it,” she said. “We want them to learn academics, and we want them to be good citizens and be able to interact with people.

“No one is perfect,” Kangisser added. “We don’t expect them to be perfect. But we want them to know if a struggle comes up, we’re here to help you. We can’t fix it. We can’t make life perfect for everybody. But we want them to know we support them, and it’s important to have them here.”

Every school has its own culture and pocket of students, Kangisser said. Mental health needs vary from building to building.

“People would be surprised that elementary students do need mental health services,” she said. “We think it’s an adult issue. But it can be at any age that a human struggles with things.

photo by: Photo by Joselyn King

Students at Woodsdale Elementary School participate in yoga during a mental health fair Friday at the school.

“It is just important that a human be open to learning about mental health issues themselves, and learn how to interact with people who have mental health issues,” she continued. “Or maybe they just want to talk to their own child about mental health. I don’t want to take that away from anyone.”

Students at Woodsdale Elementary School participate in yoga during a mental health fair Friday at the school.

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