Amity Elementary 6th graders spent the morning of Thursday, September 22 learning tips and tricks to perform at their best academically and personally through a series of speakers discussing brain and body self-care.
The full-grade activity opened with a keynote speech from Danae Riggs of Soulbird Consulting, where the mental health professional shared important tips on self-regulating during anxious situations.
Sixth graders then broke out into groups for a series of 20-minute sessions from professionals across the spectrum of health and wellness and throughout the city of Cincinnati.
Riggs followed her keynote with a session regarding social media and how it affects not only students’ brains, but also their bodies. The key messages included understanding how positive and negative interactions can make you feel, along with being willing to take a break from social media altogether when it becomes overwhelming.
Deasa Dorsey, founder of iCan Health, LLC, spent her time with the students speaking about the benefits of a healthy diet, both physically and mentally. She shared information about best practices for eating, along with foods that can help reduce anxiety, such as leafy greens and avocados. The closing of the presentation included a visual example of the amount of sugar in common drinks like soda, sports drinks, and apple juice.
Mental Wellness Specialist Morgan Gill spoke on the importance of Self-Talk, teaching students that, “You are your biggest fan!” The messaging included how tough students’ often are on themselves and encouraged them to speak as positively to themselves as they would to a friend. The presentation included one of the favorite activities of the day, as students participated in a “snowball fight” using pieces of crumpled paper with negative thoughts on them. They were then broken up into smaller groups, where they discussed the negative thoughts and how they would respond to them in a positive manner.
Stephan Becker, a doctor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital discussed the impact of sleep on preteen and teenage students, including that children ages 11-13 should be, on average, getting 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night to be at their best. His messaging included making small changes, like removing distractions from bed and trying to avoid sleeping in on the weekends, as these small changes would make a lasting impact on energy and healthiness throughout life.
Finally, former NFL athlete and current Chief Operating Officer at Jewish Hospital Michael Matthews discussed the impact of physical activity on the brain and body. Matthews used his experience at the highest level of athletics–he won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2007–to transition into the workforce as a top performer in pharmaceutical sales before taking on a leadership role in medicine. His message included thoughts that simply sticking with a daily routine can be a tremendous asset in life, whether you are a professional athlete or a 6th grader at Amity Elementary.
This program was a first of its kind for Amity 6th graders, and provided students with many every-day simple tricks and changes that can improve their daily lives. It was a very successful morning, and Amity is thankful for all of our speakers, along with the attentiveness and participation throughout the morning!