Forks Elementary School introduces new Wellness Room to support students

Forks Elementary School (FES) has unveiled its latest initiative to support students’ mental health and emotional well-being: the Wellness Room. Designed as a sanctuary for students feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or in need of emotional regulation, the room offers a variety of sensory activities to help them refocus before returning to the classroom.

Mabel Thackeray, FES counselor, recently provided a group of community members a tour of the Wellness Room, which was made possible through funding through the Handle with Care project sponsored by the previous Clallam Resilience Project. Thackeray said, “We (QVSD) received $7,000 to implement trauma-informed support practices for our students and staff. The money was used for training, creating and furnishing the room, and communication.”

She added that Generation Wellness, Lindsey Morris, came and trained Staff last August 2023.

The room features low lighting, comfy chairs, shaggy rugs, and other calming elements to create a soothing environment for students.

During the tour, Thackeray emphasized the importance of the room as a place for students to regulate their emotions. A timer is set for five minutes, allowing students a quiet space to calm down before rejoining their classmates. Since its introduction, the room has already facilitated 165 interventions, demonstrating its value in supporting student well-being.

One notable feature of the room is a string of colored lights circling the top of the wall, adding to the calming atmosphere. Thackeray highlighted that while the items in the room may appear to be toys, they are actually tools to aid in emotional regulation.

Thackeray explained that the Wellness Room serves a crucial function in preventing disruptions in the classroom. Teachers can focus on teaching without being hindered by disruptive behavior by providing students with a space to calm down.

Reflecting on the impact of the Wellness Room, Thackeray noted that the school office used to be filled with students struggling to control their emotions. Now, with the addition of the Wellness Room and regulation stations in each classroom, students have access to the support they need to manage their emotions effectively.

Thackeray also expressed gratitude to Superintendent Diana Reaume for her support and for allowing for staff training in the use of these new methods. She emphasized the importance of early intervention in elementary school, noting that it can have a positive impact on students’ well-being as they progress through their education.

In addition to the Wellness Room, the teacher’s breakroom has been transformed into a space for relaxation and self-care, with support from the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO). This holistic approach to well-being underscores FES’s commitment to supporting the whole child, both inside and outside the classroom.