SAN ANTONIO — Mae Guerra has two children who attend schools within the Southside ISD system. She's a teacher herself, but even so, helping her children with schooling at home has been a challenge; she says he 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter both struggle with anxiety.
But they were excited on Thursday to receive a "calming kit"—homemade packages designed by SISD to help children cope with stress and anxiety at home with items like Play-Doh, crayons, journals, coloring books, chalk and stress balls.
Guerra said those items will help her children take take their minds off the difficulties of schoolwork during a coronavirus pandemic that has made it that much more difficult to focus on anything, let alone schoolwork.
SISD's calming kits were made available to students of all grade levels, and each student could choose three items for their bag. They were distributed at Southside High School, with cars lined up all morning and into the afternoon for pickup.
Alejandra Gallegos, a school climate grant coordinator for the district, says the impact that the pandemic has had even on the city's youngest residents can't be overstated.
"There's been a huge disruption to their everyday schedules and routines, and we know how much of an impact that can have on them and it can increase their level of stress," Gallegos said.
SISD counselors said that, even without these kits, there are everyday things children and adults can do at home to help relieve stress. Coloring, writing a journal and going for a walk outside all have their own benefits; even the tactile satisfaction that comes with popping a sheet of bubble wrap can help someone keep anxious feelings at bay.
The kits were funded by a grant from the Southside Education Foundation and the district's Student Services Department.