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How ‘Mindfulness Day’ helps a West Island school deal with stress, anxiety

Click to play video: 'How ‘Mindfulness Day’ helps a West Island school deal with stress, anxiety'
How ‘Mindfulness Day’ helps a West Island school deal with stress, anxiety
An elementary school on the West Island hit pause on their its regular school day, and held a mindfulness day. It’s a time to explore the many ways students and staff can deal with stress and anxiety. Global’s Felicia Parrillo reports.

You won’t often find the hallways of Margaret Manson Elementary School quiet and some of the classrooms empty.

But on Monday, the entire school took a break from its regular academic calendar and instead took part in Mindfulness Day.

“It’s a day where we hit pause on all academics and we focus on being mindful and reducing stress,” said Pamela Rotondo, a special education technician.

To do that, the students take part in a wide range of activities — from yoga and tai chi to pet therapy, sounds bowls, face-painting, balloon-making and even a magic show.

Classes spent the day taking turns at each station.

“I think mindfulness is great for kids to express themselves,” said Grade 6 student Tyson Ito. “And if they have any stress they can relieve it by either playing with the dogs or having a show or other stuff that we’re doing like yoga or something.”

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This year marks the school’s third-annual Mindfulness Day.

The idea was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the special education technicians noticed students were having trouble dealing with their emotions and stress and anxiety levels were high.

“This week, actually, we have our ministry exam for math and I know a lot of Grade 6 students are stressed and I find this day will help us clear our minds and be prepared for the test,” said Vienna Papatsakonas, a Grade 6 student.

And it also helps the staff.

Teachers and other employees were also welcomed to take part in the day.

“It helps them kind of reflect on their actions in the moment, kind of get re-centred, re-focused for exams or whatever stresses life may throw at them,” said Travis Derose, special education technician.

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