LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Lexington elementary school has a program that's the first of its kind in Kentucky.
The 'Be Well' program teaches mindfulness, yoga, and breathing techniques, and the staff at Mary Todd Elementary says it is making a noticeable impact in the lives of their students.
Sarah Hanrahan is Kentucky's first-ever 'Be Well' teacher.
"I always had an interest in bringing that kind of calmness into my classroom instruction," Hanrahan said.
'Be Well' is a Nashville-based non-profit that focuses on self-regulation strategies for students. Through the pandemic, Hanrahan knew the kids would be dealing with a lot, so she brought the idea of 'Be Well' to the attention of her administration, and they made it happen.
Hanrahan explained, "I figured that we needed something more than just our regular social and emotional learning time that we have in the morning. We needed something intensive."
She sees some kids daily, others as needed, but she and the room are always there. Inside, they practice proactive approaches to handling their emotions, many of which are often at the root of behavioral issues.
Fifth-grader Kiana Pineda-Mack said it has helped her.
"I've gotten in less trouble," Pineda-Mack said. "There were counselors and stuff like that, but Ms. Hanrahan she's really welcoming, and she has a whole room dedicated to breathing and yoga and to relax."
She's not alone. Hanrahan said as a whole, the school has seen a decrease in behavior referrals since 'Be Well' started.
"Kids don't even need to go to the principal's office, we don't even have a safe room anymore, they come here instead," Hanrahan said.
There is even a space for teachers, where they can come in to take some time out for themselves. The program is providing tools both they and the students can utilize in the classroom and throughout their lives.
Pineda-Mack said, "You can express your feelings but in a healthy way."
"It's really making a ripple and reaching far beyond just this room," Hanrahan added.