Cache County School District believes in the difference a simple hello or smile can make in the lives of many students.
In an attempt to support resilience in students, the CCSD Mental Health Services Department is asking for senior citizen volunteers for a new program where the volunteers would greet the students as they arrive at the schools.
“It would do a lot for our schools and community to continue to build these resiliency skills,” Project AWARE Manager Debbie Rees said. “We’re looking for volunteers, reaching into our senior community.”
According to Rees, CCSD partnered with the Family Place, Utah State University and Logan Regional Hospital to begin the program, which will start with four schools this year: North Park Elementary, Cedar Ridge Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and North Cache Middle School.
Reese said the program was targeting trauma sensitive schools because so many students who are anxious or experiencing the effects of trauma are attending school and the district wants to address the issue.
“For some of these kids, school is the sanctuary for them,” Rees said. “It’s their safest place and some of these adults are probably going to be the most stable and supportive people that they encounter throughout the day.”
Volunteers would be at an entrance of a school for about 30 minutes while students arrive and welcome them with a friendly greeting or smile. Greeters would listen to the students if they wanted to have a conversation with someone other than a teacher or faculty member.
One of the most effective ways to reverse the effects of trauma is a supportive and caring relationship with an adult, according to Rees.
“We want to build strong relationships,” Rees said. “A greeter, we think, is just a nice opportunity for someone to come in and help shape the climate of the schools just by giving a warm and caring and personal welcome as they come and arrive to start their day.”
Although volunteers will be asked to fill out an application, Rees said the only requirements for volunteers would be to be willing to have a friendly conversation with students and be able to have transportation to the schools.
Anyone interested in volunteering or for more information can contact Rees at (435)752-3925 extension 2770 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Trauma is real and it’s prevalent and it’s toxic,” Rees said. “It’s a real factor that impacts our classroom and the learning of our students and in turn impacts our community as a whole.”