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West Jordan school installing wellness rooms for teachers and students alike

Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 26, 2023

WEST JORDAN, Utah — A school in West Jordan is helping students and teachers feel their best, by improving their community’s mental health, using wellness rooms.

At Sunset Ridge Middle School, students have a mindfulness center in the counseling area where kids can take a few minutes during their school day to visit. School officials said it has led to better learning outcomes and more positivity.

“It’s just a really nice place and a place where you can feel safe,” said Hunter Olson, a seventh-grade student at the school. He visits the center about twice a week and it says it helps him calm down when he needs a breather, before diving back into schoolwork.

“It’s important for students to know that it’s okay to have the feeling that they’re feeling. It’s okay for them to feel sad or anxious,” explained Garrett Decker, one of the school counselors. “But it’s more important for them to know that they’ve got a safe space at the school where they’re able to regulate and then get back to class.”

Students can come in to sit, play, read, color, swing, and pause -- and it’s making a difference.

“We have a lot of students that have come in here when they’re angry with the teacher, or angry with another student, or angry just because of life circumstances at home, and I feel like them coming down here first has prevented classroom disruption or potential fights here in the school,” continued Decker.

This inspired a separate wellness room for teachers and staff called the Zen Center.

“If the adults aren’t okay, then the kids don’t stand a chance,” said Sunset Ridge Middle School Principal Audrey Fish. “A dedicated space where, if they need a minute, they just come and relax.”

Teachers said getting to access a place where they can either get a massage, lay on the couch, listen to water sounds and much more.

Amy Feldman teaches food and nutrition and child development. She came into teaching after being a stay-at-home mom, and her first year of teaching was during the pandemic. She said she doesn’t know how she got through those years without a wellness room like the one her school has now.

“To have a space where I can reflect, and come back and bring myself back, then it’s so much easier for me to teach the students, and show love to them because that’s all they need,” said Feldman. So if I find myself being short-tempered, I know I have a place, even at work where I can go.”

With all the stress teachers and school staff face, getting away from the chaos of a classroom can help. “Sometimes during my prep period or during lunch, i am done. Like I have had it. And then I just think, oh yeah, I can go get a free massage, and then I come here and am like, this is the best thing ever,” said Feldman.

“If you’re anxious, angry, a nice place just to breathe, relax, reset, it’s really good for your health,” said Olson.