I have been working closely with the Wellness Center at CASA (Children’s After School Arts) in San Francisco and honestly it’s a dream. The Wellness Center provides a therapeutic space, activities and services for the children of CASA to increase their mental, emotional and social wellbeing.
I want to walk you through what a regular day in the Wellness Center looks like:
I arrive at the Rooftop School in Twin Peaks (this is where CASA is located) around 1:30 pm everyday since dismissal for school is at 2 pm. With those 30 minutes, Laurel (my supervisor) and I spend that time discussing if there are any crafts that I would like to do at the spare table, printing out sign-in sheets and tracking sheets, and talking about the students who utilized the Wellness Center the last few days.
When the school bell goes off at 2 pm, Laurel and I head over to bungalow B18 where the WC is during after school hours. We quickly set up and announce over the walkie that the WC is open. From 2 pm – 4:30 pm, students come in, sign in (as we fill out the student tracking sheet) and decide how they want to utilize the Wellness Center for a 15 minute period.
Students have the option of going to a handful of different stations; the sensory station, the art and watercolor station, the cozy/mindfulness station, the rug station (where there are building blocks, puppets, and books), and finally, a student can ask to speak to either Laurel or I at one of the stations. While I cannot speak too much of what the students tell me, students come in for an array of reasons, sometimes because something is wrong or simply because they need a quiet safe space to decompress.
It has been really incredible to see how well-spoken and intelligent the students at CASA are. These students are highly creative and their ability to process their emotions and to have restorative conversations with staff and peers is something that I wish I had the opportunity to grow up with and gives me a lot of hope for their generation.
Also, the sense of community you feel the second you feel the second you walk through the gates is almost overwhelming but is so special. With that being said, I have decided to begin my three part zine senior project for the time I have left here. I think the creativity and awareness these students have would be a great addition to my zine.
It has been a delight so far getting to know my colleagues and students and I’m excited to see what these next few weeks will bring!