Iowa City West High School seniors Heleria Wa Kalala (left) and Nao Oya (pictured Friday) serve as student mental health leaders in the school’s Navigating Emotions and Stress Through Training (NESTT) room in Iowa City. I’m here. This room provides a safe place to help students work through emotions and stress. (Jim Sursiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa City West High School seniors Heleria Wa Kalala and Nao Oya spelled “West Cares” on the mini fridge in their school’s NESTT (Navigating Emotions and Stress Through Training) room in Iowa City. (Jim Sursiarek/The Gazette)
Helelia Wa Kalala, a fourth grader at Iowa City West High School, rakes sand in a tabletop mini Zen garden in the school’s Navigating Emotions and Stress Through Training (NESTT) room. (Jim Sursiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa City West High School 4th graders Nao Oya (left) and Heleria Wa Karala clean up a moldable sand table in the school’s Navigating Emotions and Stress Through Training (NESTT) room on Friday. The room provides calming activities for students to engage in to reduce stress. (Jim Sursiarek/The Gazette)
The NESTT (Navigating Emotions and Stress Through Training) room at Iowa City West High School offers activities to help students reduce stress and negative emotions. (Jim Sursiarek/The Gazette)
Hallway flyers address students in the NESTT (Navigating Emotions and Stress Through Training) room at Iowa City West High School. (Jim Sursiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa City — After seeing too many of their Iowa City West High School classmates crying in the hallways, 18-year-old Heleria Wa Kalala and 17-year-old Nao Oya decided to help students find their own feelings before returning to class. advocated space.
The school has converted classrooms into NESTT, which stands for Navigating Emotions and Stress Through Training. Students can check in at any time during class to learn mindfulness, emotional regulation and pain tolerance.
“It’s like a second home for students, where they feel safe.
Wa Kalala was hospitalized early in the pandemic for “crippling anxiety.” Prior to that her experience, mental health was not something her family talked about.
“I realized that many of my friends were going through the same thing and didn’t know what to do,” Wa Kalala said. “I don’t blame my parents for not understanding. It’s not the culture they grew up in. It would have been very helpful if I could talk to someone at school.”
Students can visit NESTT anytime during the school day if they need help dealing with a mental health situation or stress. Their time and activities are monitored by her members of trained staff and her check-in and check-out forms.
The goal is for students to spend no more than 15 minutes in NESTT focused on learning or practicing coping skills before returning to class. Skills or tools offered at NESTT include art, talking to staff, playing with fidget toys, and listening to music.
Students have the opportunity to write their feelings in the comments section. Many respondents said they felt anxious, worried, nervous, stressed or overwhelmed when they came to NESTT. The student indicated that she felt better when she left NESTT than when she arrived at NESTT.
“The first step in taking care of yourself is recognizing that you need a little break from something that’s stressing you out,” says Laura Daly, director of learning support at Iowa City Schools. It is.” “NESTT confirms that we all have those feelings, encourages students to take the first step, and teaches simple skills that can help when things get stressful.”
The first NESTT will begin in January 2021 at Iowa City High School. This concept was created by students, school counselors, school social workers, and teachers. He received an $11,000 grant from Big Idea Hunt, a program funded by the Iowa City Community School District Foundation, for the school to purchase supplies, including furniture, books and other resources.
This year, the model was replicated in all Iowa City secondary schools. About 2,500 students use his NESTT throughout the district’s schools, according to board documents.
About a third of young people between the ages of 14 and 18 experienced a mental health crisis each year before the pandemic, according to Daly, and schools are becoming places where students seek mental health support. was.
“Everyone experiences stress differently. Knowing what stress feels like can help you recognize it early in your body and help you to alleviate those feelings before they overwhelm you.” You’ll be able to use the tools you learned in the first place,” said Daily.
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