LITTLE SILVER, NJ - “What is stressful to you about high school?” Rodney Salomon asked rising Red Bank Regional (RBR) ninth graders.
The students responded with a variety of answers, including: “friendships—breaking ones apart and finding new ones,”… “school work,”… “the upper classmen looking down on you.”
Rodney Salomon and Mychal Mills, the principals of KYDS, Konscious Youth Development & Services, a non-profit youth organization in Monmouth County, recently visited RBR’s Summer Slam freshman transitional program in July. Their intention was to offer something to aid the students’ transition to high school by minimizing that stress. They shared their coping skills of mindfulness, yoga and breathing techniques--ago-old proven methods to de-stress. They likened these skills to the metaphor of a sailboat, explaining that when the boat encounters a storm, it uses its anchor to stabilize it.
Freshman Academy & SOURCE Supervisor, Suzanne Keller, explains, “Summer Slam is a four week transition program for incoming freshmen designed to prepare them for the high school experience. Challenging curriculum includes; English, Math, History and Science. Our teachers also concentrate on social skills and team-building exercises conveying these lessons in a fun and engaging way and we always look to provide activities that will teach students coping and relaxation skills. The KYDS program was a perfect opportunity to introduce our students to these wonderful stress-reducing techniques and practices.”
In addition to the specific tools mentioned, the pair conducted several exercises to bring the groups of students, who emanated from three different middle schools, closer together.
The students learned to physically lean on one another both paired together and as entire group. The latter was accomplished in one contiguous circle swaying back and forth in a yoga tree pose. The instructors also conducted an exercise they call “real live social media.” Whereby, instead of giving someone “a like” on an electronic device, the kids were asked to actually say something positive about another student or to give an “in person like.” One by one they crossed the room to deliver a well-received compliment to a new friend.
Mychal asked, “Doesn’t it feel so much better to get likes in person?” He added, “This is more personal and more vulnerable since you are putting yourself out there.” He added, “Sometimes people spend so much time being social on social media that can’t be social in person.”
During the day, the two hoped they had planted a seed for the students to take on these practices for their daily life.
Rodney comments, “They know how they feel today. They know what their potential is and what is possible. There are so many things out there that can peer pressure them. We hope we showed them that they have the power inside to handle any pressure or obstacle that comes their way that they have that anchor within them.”
For more information on the Konscious Youth Development & Service (KYDS) visit their website at www.Konscious.org.
Summer Slam is the largest of a plethora of RBR summer school programs conducted during the summer. It is operated by the RBR SOURCE, whose mission is to remove all obstacles that impede a students’ academic success. Over 110 students from RBR’s three sending school districts of Red Bank, Little Silver and Shrewsbury attended the four-week summer program during the month of July. The SOURCE is also most grateful for this year’s community contributors including Jimmy Johns, New Corner and Red Wagon, which all supported our lunch program.