Mental Health Kickoff 2019

Mental Health Kickoff Showcases Eighth Grader's Eagle Scout Project
Posted on 09/11/2019

Mental Health Kickoff Showcases Eighth Grader’s Eagle Scout Project

DCSD Counselors, Psychologists, and Social Workers Gather for the First Time

The bright morning sun peeked over the hills in Castle Rock, driving summer heat onto the outdoor Philip S. Miller Amphitheater for a meeting on August 20, 2019. But this wasn’t just any meeting: more than 300 smiling Douglas County School District (DCSD) counselors, psychologists, and social workers all gathered for the first Mental Health Kickoff.

“It’s rare that we get an opportunity to meet as a collective group and bring all of [our] Mental Health [team] together,” said Stephanie Crawford-Goetz, Director of Mental Health, summing up the importance of the event.

Awaiting each attendee who entered the amphitheater was a vibrant, colorful, glittering Calming Jar made by Kendall Meibos, an eighth-grader at Rocky Heights Middle School.

Kendall Meibos (Eighth Grade) and Mom, Corin MeibosKendall began making Calming Jars after his counselor, Lori Qui, loaned him one last school year. “It helped me take my mind off of things and to focus on one thing,” Kendall says. “It really helped me so I wanted to help other kids that struggle with anxiety.”

The ambitious middle schooler set out to make 80 Calming Jars over the summer as part of his Eagle Scout credential, sending out a call for supplies on social media and through friends and family. Most Jars use a combination of shaving cream, water, food coloring, glitter, and water Orbeez. The coveted I-Spy Jars have 30-35 tiny objects inside, tumbling among the colorful swirls.

By August, Kendall had made 940 Calming Jars with the help of 52 volunteers -- enough to give to every DCSD counselor, psychologist, and social worker who wanted one.

Each Calming Jar comes with a sticker reminding students how to use it. First, shake the Jar and watch the contents. While breathing in and out slowly, students are encouraged to notice what they see, what they hear, what they smell, and how they feel.

“It helped me pull myself out of my Worry Brain and notice the world around me,” says Kendall. “I was able to see that people around me cared for and love me.”

Corin Meibos, Kendall’s mother, appreciates the jars.

“They allow kids to get their minds off of things or if they have time in the office and they’re waiting for someone to pick them up they’re able to keep themselves busy with something quiet,” Corin explains. “Mental illness hits our family close. It’s just nice to know the community is listening and aware.”

Mental Health Professionals Choosing Calming Jars Kendall was also the opening speaker for the Mental Health Kickoff. Dressed in his Boy Scouts uniform, he expressed his gratitude for the support he has received from mental health professionals in Douglas County. 

“I’m thankful that the community I live in knows that mental health is important. I am grateful that the district has mental health and safety of kids like me as a number one priority,” says Kendall. “It was through the Youth Mental Health First Aid class...that my mom was taught that it was okay to ask difficult questions, which ended up saving the life of someone that I love.”

For Kendall, the jars are a way to give back.

“I hope the students in your care will be able to use the calming jars to find the calm part of their brain and to know that everything will be ok.”

“Kendall exemplifies why [our] work is important,” says Lead Counselor Aaron Ragon. “We don’t always know what’s going to happen as a result of a kid we worked with...[so] to see [Kendall’s project] is a really affirming experience.”

“It was amazing to get all of the mental health professionals in the district together, which is not something we’ve been able to do before,” Crawford-Goetz reflected. “This big event shows that we are a united group taking care of each other.”

Castle View CounselorsThe mental health professionals were also excited about the new hires. Over the summer, DCSD added 80 new counselors to its ranks thanks to the Mill Levy Override passed in November 2018. Many of the Mental Health Kickoff attendees expressed enthusiasm for what the additional counselors could do for students in DCSD.

 “I’m extremely excited about the new counseling positions,” says Emily Benson, a Counselor for Prevention at Cimarron Middle School. “It’s such a great thing for our district and so necessary.”

Of the 80 new positions, 40 went to elementary schools that had never had their own in-house counselors before.

Counselor Rose Walsh, also at Cimarron Middle School, says she supports elementary school counselors: “I think it is really good and best practice with our kids in preparing them to go into middle school and high school.”

Overall, the Mental Health Kickoff set a united, energetic tone for the 2019-20 school year.

The Personalized Learning department hopes to gather DCSD’s mental health professionals again during the school year and plan to have the second Mental Health Kickoff next Fall.

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