For the second year in a row, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Education, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Action for Healthy Kids, has honored Creekside Intermediate School in Dexter with the Michigan School Wellness Silver Award. Dexter was one of forty-six Michigan schools recognized with School Wellness Awards for the 2019-20 school year.
Per their website ( swa.mihealthtools.org), the School Wellness Award (SWA) recognizes schools that are making significant policy and environmental improvements in their environment related to healthy eating, physical activity, and tobacco-free lifestyles. Originally known as the Healthy School Environment Recognition Program, this award was established in 2006 and has undergone several iterations to its present title, which was re-established in 2011.
The application process includes self-evaluation of activities and accomplishments, including submitting a Success Story. This is Creekside’s: With a focus on mental health, Creekside has designed a quiet space called the Zen Den. This area is available for any student who is struggling emotionally, giving them a safe place to calm down and regain control before rejoining their class. It was implemented in response to a growing need for social-emotional learning, emotion regulation, and stress management for our students. It also provides life-long skills. The Zen Den is part of an elective course about mindfulness called Kind Mindz, and is available for the fifth- and sixth-graders at Creekside. Kind Mindz focuses on Mindfulness and stretching. The Zen Den is a calm and welcoming space where students and staff can practice mindfulness and regulate their mind and body. We have soft lighting, music and lots of resources like yoga mats, pillows, different types of comfortable seating, coloring, etc. Students are welcome to visit the space when they need, our mindfulness flex classes are held in the space, and community education holds yoga classes after school for Creekside students.
Students have loved the new classes available during and after school, and teachers have noticed improvements in mood. The classes are led by a sixth-grade teacher and a fifth-grade teacher. Curriculum was developed by the teachers, and both the principal and assistant principal helped identify a space and obtain materials.
Creekside Principal Tammy Reich said, “Creekside staff value educating the whole child and this recognition from the state is greatly appreciated. Thanks to lifetime fitness teachers Fred Ligrow and Angie Scott, who spearheaded the Wellness Award application process and project implementation, and to Elizabeth Melvin and Narda Black, who run the mindfulness classes.”