By MICHAEL L. SAWYERS
Students’ resilience and well-being are essential for both academic and social development, and these are optimized by the provision of safe, supportive and respectful learning environments.
Schools share this responsibility with the whole community. Not only do confident, resilient children with a capacity for emotional intelligence perform better academically, but these skills also contribute to the creation of strong school bonds and supportive communities, as well as the maintenance of healthy relationships and responsible lifestyles.
The New Albany-Plain Local School District is improving student well-being by:
* Helping students develop capabilities, which promote health and well-being.
* Ensuring the school learning environments are safe and supportive.
* Strengthening engagement with parents, partners and our entire school community.
We are committed to creating a culture of accountability that achieves the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student. We are fortunate to have an outstanding and caring community that partners with us to create, provide and implement well-being programs and resources for students and families.
Last year, through its Jefferson Series, the New Albany Community Foundation brought Mariel Hemingway, a member of a prominent, well-known family that experienced mental illness, suicide and addiction, to New Albany to launch a community dialogue. Earlier this month, the Jefferson Series featured Patrick Kennedy, who shared his life story and passion for finding solutions to help with the mental-health and addiction problems plaguing our nation.
By presenting these speakers and making them available to engage our high school students, parents, educators and mental-health professionals, our community leaders are decreasing the stigma surrounding mental-health conversations that affect persons in our community every day, including students.
The school district received a generous grant from the community foundation via a gift from Brian Bailey at the Rocky Fork Co. to implement three evidenced-based programs for students. More recently, caring community benefactors established a “well-being fund” with the community foundation to support future efforts to develop programming to benefit our families.
In addition, leaders from the city, Plain Township, the community foundation and the school district are expanding partnerships with Healthy New Albany, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, ADAMH, Concord Counseling Services and other local professionals and organizations to create a best-in-class well-being program focused on all students, from pre-K to 12th grade.
Our vision is to ensure each student possesses a sense of well-being, which is defined as being healthy and happy, both physically and mentally. While the school district already has several good programs, to be effective in meeting our students’ needs, we need the entire community to be engaged.
The mission of our well-being initiative is to empower a caring community with resources that help maximize the well-being of each student. Substance abuse, addiction, depression, stress and other similar issues are unfortunate realities that we must combat and learn to prevent. Well-being matters. It matters a lot!
Although we are unable to insulate New Albany from these challenges, we can define how our community will face and respond to such challenges. Please join us at 7 p.m. March 20 at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts for our first Community Well-Being Forum.