i.b.mee.’s W.E.L.L. Kids NOW Empowerment Lab is being developed and implemented at an elementary school in Asheville NC in 2017. For the past 6 years we have been integrating a coaching-wellness-sensory-resiliency-empowerment program with teachers and students. This program has shown promising results in supporting troubled youth (and all students) in shifting disempowering behavioral patterns into empowering behavioral patterns. The students love school more and are less sensitive to external and internal stimuli.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
The National Education Policy Center reports nearly 3.4 million children are suspended yearly.
During the 2013-2014 school year, 109,000 students were paddled, swatted, or otherwise physically punished in U.S. classrooms.
Suspensions have been linked to “lower academic performance, higher rates of dropout, failures to graduate on time, decreased academic engagement, and future disciplinary exclusion.”
Reports also show that one suspension triples the likelihood of a juvenile justice contact within that year.
When students are suspended or expelled, the likelihood that they will repeat a grade, not graduate, and/or become involved in the juvenile justice system increases significantly.
African-American students and children with particular educational disabilities who qualify for special education were suspended and expelled at especially high rates.”
It is no coincidence that the prison system mirrors the same high rate of incarceration for these populations.
It is evident that with sixty-eight percent of state prison inmates not holding a high school diplomas we are missing an opportunity.
Incarcerating these former disengaged students instead of successfully educating and empowering them while they are in school is costing them their freedom and taxpayers billions.
It is clear that these practices are outdated, unfair, and not working. There is hope for decreasing the the intensity and frequency of behavior problems and disruptions without further isolating or disconnecting from the student in need. Often the outbursts, avoidances, and defiant behaviors we are seeing are symptoms of a larger problem only uncovered when the student feels safe and valued enough to express their emotions and vulnerabilities.
With one in ten people living with a diagnosed mental health challenge that is “severe enough to impair how they function at home, school, or in the community…” it is likely that every classroom in America has a student or two that needs additional supports.
Principal and thought-leader of the infamous Lincoln High School in Walla Walla Washington, Jim Sporlder, encourages an innovative approach for responding to students’ cries for help by building positive relationships, providing access to wellness resources, and teaching resiliency and coping skills that will support students as they move through future life challenges.
The U.S. Department of Education agrees that school-wide and individual interventions that use proactive, preventative approaches can address the underlying cause or purpose of the behavior.