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Empowerment Retreats help DCSD students adapt to the challenges of school life

CASTLE ROCK – The middle school years are a time of self-discovery and growth. Later this week, a group of District students will learn that they can follow a path of self-awareness and acceptance during an Empowerment Retreat hosted by the DCSD Student Wellness Department.

“Students are faced with a variety of challenges in the 21st century. The demands placed on them and the pace of their world is significantly more challenging than it was even 5-10 years ago,” said DCSD Prevention and School Culture Coordinator Staci McCormack. “Coupled with academic demands, students are engaged on so many levels, with extra curricular activities, community leadership and goal setting for their futures.” 

With all of the conventional challenges that students face, the social aspect of school life, coupled with the technological flood of social media, students have bigger challenges to deal with.

“Not only are our students stepping up to the demands of life, but they often find themselves in the midst of what is a very challenging social life. With online social networking, their social life never comes to a calm.  Being tech safety savvy in a world that relies on online social networking requires good decisions and choices moment-to-moment,” added McCormack.

At the Empowerment Retreats, held at the majestic Outdoor Education Center in Larkspur, the students find that the open-air environment is conducive to opening their minds and attitudes to new and different perspectives that aid in their growth.

“Before the retreat, I was a little hesitant talking to people. After the retreat, I was like, ‘Wow!’ I was able to talk to all these people. All the kids were really encouraging and it felt really good to be able to open up and talk about myself with others. It was eye-opening making new friends, and it really felt good,” said DCSD student Jacob Johnson.

McCormack said the positive impact on the students is one that last far beyond the weekend retreat. 

“Considerable data has been collected that indicates a sustainable impact is made on students who participate in the retreats. Working in partnership with schools and their leadership teams, we have placed student retreat participants in leadership roles within their school culture,” explained McCormack.

Examples of prevention efforts being led by students now are: Kindness Campaign efforts, Sources of Strength and Civility efforts within their buildings.

DCSD student Adelaide Clay added, “Prior to the retreat, I kind of just did my own thing at school with the same friends. As it went on, I got to meet incredible people that were there, and learned their stories, and all that they had to say… and it was really empowering and cool to know these people.”

Clay concluded that she is now able to talk to people and not judge them right away, and be more accepting of people. 

“You don’t have to be friends with people who just have the same appearance as you, you can be friends with anybody you want.”

Empowerment Retreats are held at the Outdoor Education Center on a regular basis. Follow this link for more information.

January 14, 2015 | By SCPaulsen | Category: Stone Canyon Outdoor EdVentures, Mental Health Intervention

District News

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DCSD is requesting parent input on the health and wellness of our students. Last year, DCSD received a large planning grant from Colorado Health Foundation in an effort to assess how the district supports students through the lens of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model (WSCC). The mission of this grant is to review the current state of DCSD's student health and wellness program, and then formulate a three to five-year plan based on stakeholders’ needs, the latest research, and best practices. As part of this process, we would like your input.

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It may look like a plain, white shipping container was just parked on the backyard grounds of Mountain Vista High School. The contents of the container are anything but plain, though. Walking inside the container, different colors of ambient lighting glow, futuristic-looking equipment and tall towers are suspended from the ceiling, and the humidity level is set to 70 percent. The container has been recycled into a new kind of learning opportunity for students.