VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. (NOVEMBER 30, 2021) — On Nov. 30, Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School’s Wellness Center offered students a chance to learn CPR, and acquaint themselves with the therapeutic benefits of music.
The hands-on event was made possible through a partnership with Molloy College, and served the dual purpose of informing students of the counseling services the Center provides, as well as introducing wellness-based activities into their lives, according to Memorial School Psychologist Stephanie Haag.
“The idea of this was to create an event to bring in kids to enjoy the benefits of music therapy and learn some lifesaving skills with CPR,” she said. “We’re also really trying to promote our Wellness Center by hosting these big events.”
Between two stations set up in the cafeteria at Memorial, students had the opportunity to sample a variety of instruments, such as the guitar, maracas, djembe drum, steel tongue drum and ocean drum, and separately, practice chest compressions, and the use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED, on CPR dummies.
Kaitlyn Kelly, an adjunct professor of music therapy at Molloy, said she hoped that by introducing students to the instruments, they might discover some of the therapeutic benefits of music, such as relaxation and creative exploration.
“We’re promoting health and wellness with music,” she said.
Student Tashia Williams, 14, said she particularly enjoyed getting the chance to try the various drums. “I loved it,” she said. “I’ve always loved music.”
Vanessa Wilson, 13, said she was drawn to the soft hollow tones produced by the steel tongue drum. “It really is useful,” she said, noting the therapeutic value. “It calms me down.”
At the CPR station, Dr. Kendra Hoepper, Director of Undergraduate Nursing at Long Island University, said she has been working with Molloy on a CPR initiative to increase awareness in communities of what to do when someone nearby goes into cardiac arrest. She said that between hands-only CPR, and the use of an AED, even seventh and eighth graders could make a difference and save a life.
After practicing chest compressions on the dummy, Katelyn Yeh, 14, demonstrated her newfound knowledge, and recounted what to do in that instance someone stops breathing. After placing both hands on the person’s chest, she said, “give them firm pushes at a nice pulse so it’s not too fast and not too slow.”
“It was very informative,” she added.
The two teams of instructors were present as part of Molloy’s mobile health clinic, which, with the help of grant funding from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, brings health services across a variety of disciplines to communities on Long Island.
The Valley Stream Central High School District launched the Wellness Centers this September at each of its four schools in a partnership with Northwell Health. They are open each Tuesday in the afterschool hours of 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. and provide one-on-one and group counseling to students and their families.
“It’s an extension of the school-based counseling that we’re already providing during the school day, but for kids who either can’t or don’t want to come during the school day, or just feel more comfortable in the afterschool setting,” Haag explained.
Memorial Principal Bret Strauss said the Wellness Centers were partially prompted by the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, during which a number of students had not attended in-person classes for nearly a year and a half before returning this school year.
“We knew it was a really big adjustment for them, so we wanted to be proactive with mental health and supporting them,” he said, adding that since launching the Center at Memorial, staff have been thinking of ways each week to attract more students to the new resource.
“Fortunately, a few weeks ago we connected with Molloy College and we’ve been bringing their music therapy, and their CPR program to have the students connect in the building, get involved and learn some important tools,” he said, “but also connect to the staff in our Wellness Centers and bring awareness to the program.”
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