Centerstone awards mini grants to schools to provide mental health supports to students

Centerstone, a national leader in behavioral health care, has awarded several mini grants to Southern Illinois schools to help provide mental health supports in a school setting and to promote student mental health.

The following were awarded grants from Centerstone’s Building Compassionate Communities (BCC) program:

Anna Community Consolidated School District 37 – $1,500 for “Calming Spaces for Happy Faces” remodel

  • The grant will be used to “provide a safe, eye-catching meeting area for students who are interested in group discussions about mental health or who need a place to calm their minds during the day” at the junior high, according to the grant application.
  • Project goals include:
    • Increase participation in the LBGTQ+ and all-inclusive groups
    • Provide students and parents with more mental health informational materials

Carterville High School – $540.39 for “Empower Hour” curriculum

  • The grant will be used to purchase various workbooks and resources to complement the schools social and emotional learning (SEL) lessons that are already in place to “help students identify and better cope with social emotional struggles in themselves and possibly help others as well.”
  • Project goals include:
    • Help students explore the definitions, causes, symptoms and coping skills associated with mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression
    • School counselors will work more intensely with students who identify as needing further coping skills in specific SEL areas.

Adams Elementary School in Creal Springs – $459 for “Second Step” curriculum and Jefferson Elementary School in Marion – $918 for “Second Step” curriculum

  • The grant will be used to purchase “Second Step,” an SEL curriculum for the schools’ preschool programs.
  • Project goals include:
    • Provide social and emotional curriculum to be taught on a daily basis in the classroom
    • Increase the overall social emotional growth of young children in the preschool program

Carbondale High School – $626.15 for a “Needs Bank”

  • The grant will be used to purchase a brochure holder, Mood Meter app, stress relievers, monthly SEL projects, school supplies, clothing/hygienic needs, and flexible, student-centered seating.
  • Project goals include:
    • Enhance the counseling and social work space at Carbondale Community High School
    • Provide quick, solution-focused tools to support students with their social/emotional health

Herrin Elementary School – $1,500 for calming room remodel

  • The grant will be used to purchase children’s trauma literature, education materials for parents and teachers, sensory items, and calming materials.
  • Project goals include:
    • Increase student awareness of their emotions and how to regulate them on their own
    • Provide a safe place to explore the different options to regulate emotions
    • Educate our staff and parents on how children respond to trauma and the resources that can be utilized to support them in reaching their goal of self-regulation

Marion Junior High School – $1,500 for a mental health awareness campaign

  • The grant will be used to purchase posters with “educational and encouraging messages about mental health that will be displayed throughout Marion Junior High School.”
  • Project goals include:
    • Promote mental health awareness and reduce the stigma related to seeking mental health support throughout Marion Junior High School while also beautifying the building

Lincoln Elementary School in Marion – $1,330.71 for social and emotional learning curriculum and calming tools

  • The grant will be used to provide Deaf and Hard of Hearing Elementary students with tools to use in the classroom to calm down, focus and express their emotions and educators with a specific curriculum for SEL, as well as reading material
  • Project goals include:
    • Provide students supportive materials to understand, discuss, relate and regulate their emotions

Pinckneyville High School, St. Bruno Catholic School in Pinckneyville, and Tamaroa Grade School District #5 – $1,500 for mental health curriculum and teacher incentive

  • The grant will be used to purchase a $25 gift card for staff members to a local restaurant of their choice and copies of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” for teachers and students
  • Project goals include:
    • Provide greater access to spaces for staff to discuss their mental health
    • Provider greater access to supportive adults with knowledge of mental health and more spaces for young people to talk about mental health
    • Provide more access to reliable mental health information

Sesser-Valier Community Unit School District 196 – $1,250 for “Calm Down Kits”

  • The grant will be used to purchase “Calm Down Kits” for each classroom which can help students recognize triggers and methods that will help with emotional regulation.
  • Project goal:
    • Increase access to items for students to use for coping mechanisms

Unity Point Community Consolidated School District 140 – $1,500 for SEL curriculum

  • The grant will be used to purchase lesson plans, activities, worksheets, books, etc. for such topics as social fluency, social media, self-esteem, SEL, anxiety, resiliency, conflict resolution, self-management, empathy, and more.

Unity Point CCSD 140 – $1,492 for a calming room

  • The grant will be used to purchase items needed for a calming room, which will be “a supportive, therapeutic environment to assist students in self-regulation and calming strategies by offering a relaxing environment” located within the school’s social work room.
  • Project goals include:
    • Increase spaces where students can support their mental health needs
    • Provide a calming space for teachers and other staff

Unity Point CCSD 140 – $1,500 for supplies for “sandtray therapy,” which is “a therapeutic technique that allows for students to nonverbally or semi-verbally process inter- and intrapersonal issues.”

  • The grant will be used to purchase sandtrays, sand, shelves, risers, filament, and miniatures.
  • Project goal:
    • Provide a necessary safe space for students to process their feelings and build coping skills to aid in healing from past trauma and ongoing problems

Williamson County Educational Services – $1,496 for “cozy corner” additions

  • The grant will be used to purchase sensory items, photos, books, pillows and seats to add to existing “cozy corners,” which are areas in classrooms for students to learn how to manage their emotions.
  • Project goal:
    • Enhance the cozy corners in each classroom and enable the Pre-K teacher to provide better support for their children

Williamson County Educational Services – $4,131 for three Second Step curriculums 

  • The grant will be used to purchase three “Second Step” curriculums each for North Side Primary Center in Herrin, Little Lions Pre-K Center in Carterville, and Jefferson Elementary Pre-K in Marion.
  • Project goals include:
    • Provide social and emotional learning curriculum to be taught on a daily basis in the classroom
    • Increase the overall social emotional growth of young children

Centerstone awarded more than $24,000 in minigrants.

In 2018, Centerstone received a grant from the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation to fund a six-year project to build a trauma-informed mental health system of care called Building Compassionate Communities (BCC). The system of care approach combines a broad array of individualized services that are community-based, family-driven, youth-guided, culturally- and linguistically-competent and data informed. One goal of the system of BCC is to uplift youth voice in the provision of mental health supports as well as provide additional forms of mental health support for young people.

“Schools are a natural partner in these efforts given their important roles in the lives of young people,” said Zachary Schumacher, BCC grant coordinator. “More students than in previous years need mental health supports given the stresses and changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic. These grants were created to assist staff in schools currently providing mental health supports to students in sustaining their current efforts or launching new creative endeavors to engage students and create spaces and places for them to discuss their mental health.”

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