Lakewood Ranch High School senior creates a relaxation room for students.
Maya Lander, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High School, had a few ideas of what to do for her Girl Scout Gold Award project, but she wasn’t sure which to pursue.
When the pandemic hit and she was experiencing an increase in stress and anxiety while adjusting to safety protocols while trying to succeed academically, she knew what she wanted to do.
Other students were experiencing more stress and anxiety as well, so she decided to create a Relax Room to earn her Gold Award, which is the highest achievement for a Girl Scout.
“Once COVID happened, I saw how much stress was arising from teenagers, including myself, because of everything that was going on in the last school year with masks and sitting spread apart,” Lander said. “I saw so many kids were stressed out, and they didn't have anywhere to go and they didn't understand what was happening. I was trying to come up with a way for them to find an escape that’s private.”
Lander worked with staff at the school to turn a second bathroom in the school clinic into a room where students could come to calm themselves when they’re feeling anxious.
“The school day is long and can be stressful, and your anxiety can get in the way and cause you to be distracted," she said. "You can step out of class for a few minutes quietly without anyone knowing to reset, calm yourself down and feel more prepared and ready to take on the rest of the day.”
The Relax Room has a bed, soft lights, aroma therapy, blankets, pillows, coloring books, calm strips and more. Lander also created calm cards that give students breathing, grounding and relaxation techniques.
Students can access the Relax Room by asking their teachers to go to the clinic.
Laura Anderson, a nurse at Lakewood Ranch High School, was excited to have a Relax Room at the school because she knew there was a need and it would be utilized. She said about four students use the Relax Room daily.
“Coming into the room for the first time, I think they are a little bit hesitant, but once they see everything that Maya has implemented in there, it’s a very calming space,” Anderson said.
Anderson said having a room dedicated to students being able to express their anxieties and calm down helps to destigmatize mental health and shows students they’re not alone.
“I think, especially with anxiety, if you think that you’re the only one, you’re less likely to talk about it with someone else,” Anderson said. “Once you realize other people experience it as well, then you almost feel in a community with people and feel it’s OK to talk about it.”
Seeing students walk around campus with calm strips and other items from the relax room makes Lander happy to know she’s helping other students.
“I feel good about my project,” Lander said. “I’m glad that I’m helping people and that I’ve used my own struggles to help others. That makes me feel better and like I’ve made progress. I wanted to help people and because I’ve experienced it myself I completely understand what they’re going through.”
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