POINT PLEASANT — Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School (PPJ/SHS) will be offering a new class to students next school year.
Brittany Mitchell, victim advocate for CONTACT in Mason County, along with Kerri Thomas, prevention education specialist for CONTACT, will be teaming up to teach the curriculum “Mind Matters: Overcoming Anxiety and Building Resilience.”
Mitchell explained this course was designed by Carolyn Curtis and Charles Stolzenbach who refer to the curriculum as a toolkit for empowerment.
The Dibble Institute introduced the curriculum in 2017 and Mind Matters consists of 12 one-hour lessons that teach students ages 12 and up how to respond to negative experiences using innovated methods based on current research and neuroscience. These skills give young people a way to take charge of their emotions and improve their state of mind. It helps young people begin to say, “I am not a victim of what happened to me.”
The lessons are hands-on, and they explore the effects of adversity and toxic stress, along with the healing process. Each individual lesson includes activities that build resilience and increase hope. Students learn to address their physical, relational, and mental health needs. The skills taught in Mind Matters are designed to be practiced over a lifetime.
The curriculum is not meant to be group therapy or to replace psychotherapy. Instead, it is intended to be facilitated by paraprofessionals to inspire, uplift, and set young people on the journey of healing as they cultivate deeper resilience.
“Young people who have experienced trauma and toxic stress often have difficulty regulating their emotional responses when facing challenges in school, life, and relationships,” said Mitchell. “That is why the Mind Matters curriculum is so important and valuable to our children.”
She explained some of the lessons taught will include developing self-soothing skills, identifying and expressing emotions, building empathy, mapping a support system, discussing the effects of trauma on the brain and behavior, discussing trauma containment, and discuss how to practice skills for mindfulness. Some exercises found in the toolkit will include focused breathing exercises, yoga, and exercises on integrating the senses through rhythm.
Mitchell and fellow representatives of CONTACT will be meeting with PPJ/SHS Principal William Cottrill to discuss getting the curriculum on next school year’s calendar.
“Mr. Cottrill and the school counselors have all been very welcoming and supportive of CONTACT and integrating Mind Matters into the school,” said Mitchell.
Wahama Junior/Senior High School and Hannan Junior/Senior High School administration and staff were both contacted about implementing this curriculum in their school system as well.
Mitchell and fellow representatives of CONTACT have been visiting PPJ/SHS once a week when they are able during the students’ lunch hours to help educate them about topics such as sexual assault, stalking, healthy relationships, bullying, cyber stalking, internet safety, consent, and teen dating violence. While giving the students an educational lesson, the CONTACT representatives also have different activities in the which the students can participate.
Mitchell shared CONTACT is a program that is committed to preventing violent acts of any kind and those who work for this program believe that education is the best tool to stop violent attitudes and behaviors.
The following are statistics to keep in mind:
One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18;
One in 10 children in West Virginia will be victims of sexual abuse by the age of 18;
Nearly half of all students ages 10-15 experience sexual harassment;
One in three adolescent girls are victims of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner;
30 percent of bullied children have suicidal thoughts, and 10 percent of them have attempted to take their own lives;
West Virginia Law Erin’s Law requires public schools to provide child sexual abuse prevention programs.
More information on Mind Matters curriculum can be found by visiting www.DibbleInstitute.org.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.