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Grant Aids Elementary School in Helping Kids Improve Focus

January 10, 2019 7:59 a.m.

  • Mark Twain students display the new activity equipment. Pictured left to right are: Ryleigh Cordes, Jackson Murphy, Markus Drum and Lorelei Williams.

Teachers at Mark Twain Elementary School in Charleston are excited about having new equipment to implement “zones” to help kids improve focus and enhance learning in the classroom.

The school recently received a grant for the new activity equipment, including exercise mats, weighted hula hoops, exercise pedals, activity dice, theraputty, weighted lap pads, bosu balls, balance pods, tranquil turtle and frog, yuck-e-balls and more, thanks to a $1,000 grant from Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Healthy Kids program. The grant was made possible by WomenConnected, a women’s giving circle made up of 85 women within the SBL Health Foundation.

The new equipment is being used to create “Zones of Regulation” in classrooms to help students learn how to regulate their emotions to help them concentrate better and learn. “We have seen students be able to stay in class more and regulate within the setting, rather than having to leave the classroom,” Mark Twain Principal Denise Titus said. “We have also seen students be empowered to take charge of their own emotional regulation.”

The sensory items, such the tranquil turtle with soothing lights and sounds and theraputty (similar to silly putty), are often offered to help calm students when they become agitated. “It helps to keep their hands occupied and keep them in the classroom,” Titus said. “Sarah Bush Lincoln has been a great resource in helping us find alternative ways to help kids be successful and we are very thankful.”

The additional equipment including floor mats, balance pods, weighted hula hoops and activity dice offer physical activity options for students who might need a movement break during the day. “Our goal is to find more ways to help kids be successful,” she said.

Titus previously worked at Williams Elementary School in Mattoon where this program was implemented with great success. “It has proven to be very effective in helping kids with sensory issues calm down and ready themselves for learning and I’m excited about bringing these concepts to Charleston,” she said.

“Movement is the key to healthy physical, social and mental development. The new fitness equipment provides the children with more opportunities to move throughout the day and thus increase focus and learning,” SBL Healthy Communities Director Laura Bollan said.

The SBL Healthy Kids program and WomenConnected have also donated equipment for similar programs to Carl Sandburg Elementary School in Charleston and Williams and Riddle elementary schools in Mattoon.

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