As we explained in Part 1 of this story, WeTHRIVE!’s Andrea Bourgeois last year started an advisory committee to bring WeTHRIVE! partners and school districts together to share information, make connections, and build mutually beneficial relationships.
How have partners & schools connected?
Today we’ll take a look at HEAT, a WeTHRIVE! partner who works with WeTHRIVE! schools to impact the health and well-being of students, teachers, and parents.
HEAT (Holistically Empowering All Teens)
HEAT uses the science of restorative practices in working with schools and teens around mental wellness and preventing substance abuse and suicide. Restorative practices focus on connection and building community, says Tara Robinson, HEAT’s director of community relations & program development.
“It comes out of restorative justice, which is the philosophy that if you just punish someone for committing a crime, they’re more likely to commit the crime again,” Tara explains. “But if you build connection with them and do some restorative work while they’re in prison, when they come out, then you have put pieces in place for them to succeed.”
Tara says this approach is used to curb recidivism rates of school suspensions and acts of violence at schools, and for drug and suicide prevention. The goal is to build a culture within classrooms and schools that is conducive to a safer and healthier environment.
The way to do that is by building connection. “Because if there is connection with another human being, we’re less likely to commit an act of violence against them,” Tara says. “And connection with another human being also bolsters our own interpersonal sense of mental health and wellness, so we’re less likely to be depressed and anxious if we have really solid connections with the people around us.”
HEAT in WeTHRIVE! schools
Tara just started an 8-week small group for eight fifth graders at Taylor Middle School. The students will meet once a week for 45 minutes to talk about emotional issues. “I’ll offer them tools for dealing with these things, but a support group is also spending time listening and spending time letting them make suggestions to each other,” Tara says.
HEAT will also provide training on restorative practices and small group facilitation to Taylor High School students who will then be able to lead more small groups.
In March and April, HEAT will offer an educational series, Mind Over Matters, for parents and staff of Northwest Local Schools.
Tara adds, “One of HEAT’s most recent projects was to produce an important drug prevention video series with Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Sammarco. These videos contain important information every high school student should know. Efforts are being made to have them included in the state curriculum for health classes.”
Contact Tara Robinson to learn more about HEAT.