Students at Lynbrook North Middle School are enjoying a new calming oasis in their building. The school’s Wellness Room was born at the start of 2020 after several students expressed a need for a calm space within the school building.
The project was spearheaded by School Psychologist Marie Toscano who wanted to meet the needs of students. After visiting two schools that created wellness or mindfulness spaces, Ms. Toscano was inspired to transform the school’s guidance room into a Wellness Room. The space previously consisted of a conference table and some shelving.
Bringing the Wellness Room to fruition was a team effort. Students volunteered to help bring the new space to life. This included decorating and painting the room with inspirational sayings and a soft white wave design on the walls. The school also received generous donations from Lynbrook families, community members, staff and the North Middle School PTA. One notable donation was from Lynbrook High School guidance counselor Jonathan Spector whose two large photographs, one of a beautiful sunset and the other of a wave crashing down, is mounted on a wall in the room. Both photographs symbolize the feeling of calmness and were perfect additions to the space.
“I want students to have a comfortable and safe place to go to during the day that they feel welcomed in whenever they need it,” said Ms. Toscano. “I also want them to feel supported by the guidance staff when they come down here and I hope that it makes their school experience an overall better experience, no matter who they are.”
The room is designed for all students to access throughout the day with many students visiting at the start of school and during lunch periods. The school’s guidance staff holds support groups in the space, which is what the room was utilized for previously, but now any students can reserve the room if they would like.
“It’s a nonjudgmental space,” said School Social Worker Sandra Gettenberg, who helped support Ms. Toscano with the project. “The students are practicing self-advocacy.”
Whether a student is stressed, anxious or just needs a moment to themselves, the room provides a variety of practices that students can employ to help them find more success in school. Along with the calming colors found throughout the space, the Wellness Room features dim lights, comfortable furniture, sensory tools and mindfulness activities such as coloring books and games.
“Kids are able to come in here and decompress because school is stressful,” said eighth grader Micala Dugger, who helped decorate the new space. “Sometimes people need an environment to just sit in because the cafeteria can be hectic. It has created a calming space for kids, and it will always be here.”