- Oyster Bay-East Norwich Schools
OBEN Spotlights Mental Health & Better Speech and Hearing Month
Recognizing that the pandemic has put an emotional strain on many, the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District is taking special care to spotlight the importance of mental and behavioral health by hosting several events that support Mental Health Awareness Month as well as Better Speech and Hearing Awareness Month.
The effort kicked off with a video featuring Oyster Bay High School’s American Sign Language (ASL) students under the direction of ASL teacher Dr. Nicolle Sisia who signed the song, Hall of Fame by The Script with various members of the faculty, administration, and Board of Education. The song’s uplifting message that anyone can find it within them to reach their full potential was at the heart of the video and was well-received by the learning community and social media.
The awareness campaign is continuing throughout the month with a theme for each day of the week including Mindfulness Monday, Talking Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, Thankful Thursday and Feel Good Friday. Every Monday starts with wearing the color green, the color of Mental Health Awareness and a symbol of the continual effort to fight the stigma that is often associated with mental health conditions. Tuesdays focus on speech and language by sharing inspirational quotes presented in English and Spanish and a sign language PSA with students. On Wednesdays, students see videos and engage in other resources to help them manage stress and learn self-care techniques. Thursday focus on being thankful and showing appreciation through such activities as letter writing and spreading kindness by doing small gestures for others. Fridays are devoted to feelings with exercises such as drawing your feelings in a journal or visualization activities to help feel centered.
A highlight of Mindfulness Monday took place at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School where K-2 students participated in a read-aloud of the book, Ruby’s Worry by Percival Tom. The children’s book is a way of sharing with young children that everyone has worries or anxiety and that there are ways of coping with them to feel better. The book was read via Zoom by Oyster Bay High School thespian and former Theodore Roosevelt student Samuel Lingen, who discussed ways of reducing worry with students, adding that he likes to sing to feel better.
For a Feel-Good Friday activity, Vernon School students participated in a Chalk the Walk activity as an artistic way to express their feelings and create positive messages around their school.
“During these challenging times, there has been a rise of anxiety, stress, depression and other mental conditions that can take a toll on our mental health if not addressed,” said Ms. Lynette Abruzzo, Director of Special Services. “We are so proud to be able to bring a rich array of resources and techniques to nourish the mental well-being of our students and staff, and hope that they will continue to practice them as part of a healthy lifestyle. Many thanks to our amazing special services staff for coordinating this campaign for our learning community. They include Dr. Matthew Jurgens, Assistant Director of Special Services, Oyster Bay social workers Mr. Matt Brown and Ms. Migdalia Rosario, speech\language pathologist Ms. Melisssa Markotsis and school psychologist Dr. Cara Riebe; Vernon social worker Ms. Lila Zahed, speech\language pathologist Ms. Kristie Fazio and school psychologist Dr. Allison Mueller, and Theodore Roosevelt social worker Ms. Yennifer Muriel. speech\language pathologist Ms. Deanna Darcey and school psychologist Ms. Tracey Vieweg.