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Baldwin High School “Chill Room” helps students deal with mental health issues

Baldwin High School "Chill Room" helps students deal with mental health issues
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A local student traveled to Washington DC to testify in front of Congress about mental health on Wednesday.Brooklyn Williams is a senior at Baldwin High School. She was one of the speakers who tested during the Senate Children and Families Subcommittee hearing where the importance of helping teens transition from high school to college was discussed.Two years ago, Williams said she started a mental health club at Baldwin High School after her own experiences with loss and depression. With the help of her principal, she launched the Chill Club. It’s an extension of the Chill Project that helps students cope with stress and other challenges.“I have been graced with many opportunities that helped me to share my story and cope with the loss of my mom and the struggles resulting from that, but I feel there is a long way to go. Incorporating mental health topics from an early age would be the first stepping stone I would take to support people’s needs,” Williams said. first iteration of the Chill Program at the high school level.”Allegheny Health Network created the program, and it quickly became a helpful resource for students in school districts across the region. Baldwin has a Chill Room that students use as an escape.“Kids can write themselves passes to come to the Chill Room if they need a few minutes to calm down, to destress,” Tomaszewski said. needs, from level one to five. “One being I am okay, ‘I just needed a quiet space to get a break from whatever for like five, ten minutes,’ or maybe a kid is experiencing a panic attack and obviously they are at a five out o f five,” AHN Behavioral Health Educator, Taylor Kyle said.Once in the Chill Room, there are different spaces and activities for each student.“Whether it’s sort of a meditative activity where they are drawing shapes and lines in sand to cool down, to recollect…writing reflective notes to themselves, writing reflective notes to other people in their lives that they might be in conflict with, that might be sources of their anxiety,” Tomaszewski said. Kyle says the ultimate goal is to teach lessons that go beyond the space. “The room itself does provide coping, but really the room is meant to teach them how to do it on their own,” Kyle said.

A local student traveled to Washington DC to testify in front of Congress about mental health on Wednesday.

Brooklyn Williams is a senior at Baldwin High School. She was one of the speakers who tested during the Senate Children and Families Subcommittee hearing where the importance of helping teens transition from high school to college was discussed.

Two years ago, Williams said she started a mental health club at Baldwin High School after her own experiences with loss and depression.

With the help of her principal, she launched the Chill Club. It’s an extension of the Chill Project that helps students cope with stress and other challenges.

“I have been graced with many opportunities that helped me to share my story and cope with the loss of my mom and the struggles resulting from that, but I feel there is a long way to go. Incorporating mental health topics from an early age would be the first stepping stone I would take to support people’s needs,” Williams said.

Principal Shaun Tomaszewski says the Chill Project launched back in 2019, just months before the pandemic, “Baldwin High School was the first iteration of the Chill Program at the high school level.”

Allegheny Health Network created the program, and it quickly became a helpful resource for students in school districts across the region.

Baldwin has a Chill Room that students use as an escape.

“Kids can write themselves passes to come to the Chill Room if they need a few minutes to calm down, to destress,” Tomaszewski said.

About 200 students use the Chill Room each month. When they walk into the space, they’re evaluated for their needs, from level one to five.

“One being I am okay, ‘I just needed a quiet space to get a break from whatever for like five, ten minutes,’ or maybe a kid is experiencing a panic attack and obviously they are at a five out of five,” AHN Behavioral Health Educator, Taylor Kyle said.

Once in the Chill Room, there are different spaces and activities for each student.

“Whether it’s sort of a meditative activity where they are drawing shapes and lines in sand to cool down, to recollect…writing reflective notes to themselves, writing reflective notes to other people in their lives that they might be in conflict with, that might be sources of their anxiety,” Tomaszewski said.

Kyle says the ultimate goal is to teach lessons that go beyond the space.

“The room itself does provide coping, but really the room is meant to teach them how to do it on their own,” Kyle said.

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