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Schools get creative using COVID grant money


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    ATLANTA (WGCL) — At Beecher Hills Elementary School, yoga is becoming second nature to first graders.

“It helps you breathe,” said 7-year-old Jordan, “and it can help you focus sometimes.”

“It helps me calm myself down when I get sad or emotional,” said 7-year-old Quentin.

The school started “Mindful Mondays” thanks in part to a COVID Impact Grant through the nonprofit redefineED Atlanta.

“We’ve had students who’ve lost family members due to COVID, and I think that mindfulness was needed because it taught kids how to cope with their feelings,” said Assistant Principal Dr. Tiffany Franklin, who came up with the idea as she dealt with her own emotions during the height of the pandemic. “That’s what started me to thinking, ‘If I’m feeling this way, how are my students feeling during this time?’”

Beecher Hills teamed up with The Namaste Project to bring weekly mindfulness and yoga practices into its school.

“One of my favorite quotes, I learned from a student,” said Franklin. “He told me that from yoga, he learned that peace begins with me. I think everyone here has learned or benefitted from what we’re doing here.”

Public and private partners donated the $168,000 used to fund the grants, which were awarded to 14 Atlanta public schools along with ten school-oriented nonprofit groups.

At M. Agnes Jones Elementary, redefin-ED’s grant is being used to teach first grade students how to fly drones.

At Harper Archer Elementary, the grant money is being used to build personal libraries at students’ homes. One of the books teaches about confidence.

“In one of the classes, they have created a mirror,” said LaJuana Ezzard, director of partnerships for Harper Archer. “As they speak in the mirror, they are speaking confidently, ‘I am confident. I am smart. I am bold.’”

Principal Dione Simon says it’s a small way to help students explore their inner feelings during what’s been a very stressful year.

“It’s important to me that students learn about their emotions,” she said, adding that having confidence can help them work through any situation that comes their way in the future.

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