Lessons were put aside Thursday to teach students at Nevada’s Central Elementary School the practice of self-care. Throughout the day, students were introduced to the importance of self-care and experienced various activities related to the topic.
“We have a great staff that cares about the health and well-being of kids, which they know includes mental health,” Central Elementary counselor Emily Kruse said. “(Mental health) is something that I think they know comes before math and reading; academics are important, but mental health is even more important, and we have a staff that supports the whole idea.”
This year, ‘Self-Care Day’ included dance lessons, lessons on good hygiene, movement and obstacle courses, visits from therapy animals, and opportunities to play with scooters.
“The kids love this day,” said Principal Chris DeNeui said.
Activities and volunteers for the day are suggested by the specials team, central elementary counselors, as well as the gifted and talented teacher, according to Kruse. During the presentation, volunteers will also tie in how the topic deals with self-care.
In an early-kindergarten classroom, students waited patiently to pet Rizzo, an 8-year-old golden retriever who was brought along with 5-year-old golden retriever Legend by Joanne Lastoka. The dogs have paid visits to schools in the past, including stops at Iowa State University during ‘dead week.’
“We are just trying to talk about dog safety for the kids and unusual situations,” Lastoka said. “Then kind of demonstrate a little bit of obedience, tricks, and silly things they can do, and generally have a good time.”
This is the second year the school has swapped out lessons for a day centered around mental health. The idea to host a self-care day was inspired by another school district who participated in a similar day, where last year’s event landed on Valentines Day, according to counselor Erin Murphy,
“There’s always kids that struggle with any change in their routine and that’s due to a variety of things, but for the most part, I think there’s a lot of energy in the building,” Murphy said. “This time of year seems like a perfect time to have a day like this and to make it OK to take a day where we just take care of ourselves.”