08 Mar 2022

As Schools evolve into centers of Community Wellness, K-12 Wellness Rooms offer students a place to recharge

In another life, I was a middle and high school teacher. I taught in and around Metro Detroit at the turn of the century. I had a very diverse, predominantly high-risk set of students throughout my five-year career, which was spent in a mix of both public and charter schools. Many of these schools lacked the resources for professional counselors and, in many cases, didn’t even employ a nurse for student health issues. Intervention with students who needed it and a calm place to recover from the rigors of the academic day weren’t something that we ever had the luxury of thinking about. I can remember many times when a troubled student’s best option was simply to wait it out in class or call their parents and punitively sit in the office until they could be picked up. I’d wish for a better way.

Well, I’m excited to see my wish coming true and tell you about the positive changes happening in education. School officials have recognized the needs and are starting to take steps in the right direction. As schools evolve into community wellness centers, students and their parents are starting to expect a hub of education and attention for the community.  The concept of It Takes A Village is as valid as it ever was. Part of the larger discussion that’s happening in communities now is around student and staff wellness- not just physical wellbeing, but mental health.

Let’s face it, the last two years have been rough on students- and educators, also. It’s a lot to ask to go from being on a Zoom call in pajamas with classmates listening to presentations for a few hours and then working independently, back to 6 or 7 periods a day of 40 minutes of sitting still, paying attention, and getting back into the routine of learning. It’s natural that some students- especially those in K-6 grades- are having some trouble adjusting. Many of them haven’t been in the classroom long enough to develop coping skills that would allow them to quickly get back to “normal”- whatever that is.

Enter STS EDUCATION Wellness Rooms. Picture spaces with soft, indirect, natural lighting and neutral tones on the walls. The furniture is soft-sided, includes sound-defeating insulation for privacy, and is available for students to use in several different orientations and postures. Whether they’re having a face-to-face conversation with a counselor at a table, or they are simply laying down on their back, an arm over their eyes, the students get the agency to choose. These spaces can also incorporate more modern biophilic designs and actual living plants- even animals such as fish tanks- to create a relaxing atmosphere as a respite from the somewhat more rigid traditional learning experience.

These spaces can also function as secondary “employee lounges”- adults need time to refocus and rejuvenate attention as well. Incorporating relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation with the use of VR headsets and headphones could also be an option for a person requiring more of an active way to screen out stimuli. The space doesn’t have to be huge or hugely expensive- but it should be an oasis of calm that helps students and learners reorient themselves to the task at hand.

AT STS, we have many working educators on staff, keeping current with all the pedagogical trends and products to help meet the diverse needs of students, both mainstream and neurodiverse. We’ve done installations of wellness rooms such as the ones pictured all over the country, in large and small spaces of all types. We’d love the opportunity to help you create an oasis of calm at the center of your bustling district with student and staff Wellness Rooms.