With mental health concerns rising throughout the country and disproportionately impacting school-aged children, the Jewish Educational Center and its Bruriah High School joined with the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest
to provide preventative mental health programming to students of all ages. Made possible by generous grants from the Day School Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, these innovative programs epitomize the community’s shared commitment to supporting the healthy social-emotional development of students and families.
At the JEC Lower School, the grants funded programs with leading experts Dr. Susan Brill and Dr. Jennifer Weberman. Dr. Brill introduced fourth- and fifth-grade girls to the emotional aspects of physical development and coached them on maintaining a healthy body image and outlook through their developmental years. Dr. Weberman engaged faculty in workshops that taught skills and tips on supporting the emotional health and development of children. Follow-up workshops for parents are being planned for the fall.
In the JEC High School, Director of Guidance, Dr. Avi Muschel, worked with students to design a powerful mindfulness program where students chose the three most used smart-phone apps and agreed to cease using them for four weeks. Those participants who stayed off the apps for even one week reported incredible benefits to their mental health and overall state of being. A two-day mindfulness retreat filled with fun, camaraderie and emotional growth followed the successful completion of the program.
At Bruriah, multiple programs have been planned to introduce students and parents to a range of important issues. High school juniors and seniors watched renowned speaker Naomi Ackerman present her “When Flowers Aren’t Enough” monologue that educates young women on healthy relationships and self-empowerment while recognizing the signs, realities and measures to prevent domestic violence. In the coming months, parenting expert Slovie Jungreiss-Wolff will engage parents and faculty in a dialogue about building resilience in children during their formative years and creating a strong foundation that will serve them strongly into adulthood. This program will enable faculty and parents to collaborate in supporting the emotional growth and development of our students. High School students will also participate in the mental health awareness program “You Are Not Alone,” which provides students with the language and tools to reach out to others for support when they struggle emotionally.
With the new school year just weeks away, the JEC, Bruriah and the Day School Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest are working together to build on these programs and continue strengthening social-emotional education and support throughout the community.