Welcome to Wellness: Hart District receives update on recently opened Wellness Centers

More than 100 combined students are visiting wellness centers located at West Ranch High School and Canyon High School per day, according to the campuses’ social workers.

The usage report of the Wellness Centers comes five months after 17.5% of eighth and 10th grade students taking a district survey said yes to the question: “During this school year, did you ever experience thoughts of suicide?”

During their presentation in front of the William S. Hart Union High School District board Wednesday night, Sarah Gilberts, who runs the wellness center at Canyon High School, and Nancy Phillips, who runs the one at West Ranch, shared how the wellness centers are responding to the results of the survey.

Gilberts and Phillips shared that their approach to wellness, and caring for the “whole student,” and not only the academic aspects, includes educating students on: healthy habits and nutrition, acceptance of self and others, positive psychology, healthy relationships and lifestyle choices.

Each month one or more topics become the focus of weekly lunch talks and, in addition to visits from therapy dogs, the social workers are developing a speaker’s bureau that features experts in mental health-related fields coming to speak to students free of charge.

Gilberts and Phillips both said the idea of the centers are to create a safe place students can come relax, breathe and explore ways to live a more balanced life.

In the presentation, with the centers having only been open for 23 days now since the start of school, the social workers said a nominal average of 60 students visit the Canyon Wellness Center per day and an average of 40 students visit the one at West Ranch.

Gilberts and Phillips went on to say that the district hopes to use the wellness coordinators at each school to help in the development of a five-year strategic plan to oversee the design and programming for future centers and services.

Of the presentation, governing board member Cherise Moore said her goal and vision is “to see a center of sorts at every school in the district.

“I see us as being on the cusp of even greater things, and we need to keep this state-of-the-art, we need to keep pushing forward, doing more and doing better,” said board President Bob Jensen. “This is a big accomplishment for the district, and I want to see us incorporate some things in the classroom and the curriculum.”

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