Why a Hinds Co. teacher left the classroom to start a mentoring program about COVID-19
HINDS CO., Miss. (WLBT) - A 19-year teacher has said goodbye to the classroom to delve into a newfound passion, helping children cope with the mental health impact of the pandemic.
Roshunda Black-Mitchell, a former Hinds County School District teacher and published author at Gary Road Elementary School, is creating her own non-traditional learning space, called Amazing Kids Mentoring Program.
The purpose is to create a space where children of all ages can feel free to express their emotions, learn about the importance of self-care and understand the power of journaling their feelings.
It was born out of need, Black-Mitchell says.
“I saw many students in and out of my classroom who were sad; they had a sense of fear, worry, social withdrawal about their schoolwork and overall mental state,” she said.
From school to church and even in the community, the educator said she felt the heaviness of hearts.
“I would hear things like, ‘I don’t understand this, I wish it would go back to normal,’ she said. “I never thought not being with their peers would take a toll on them like that,” Black-Mitchell said.
So the teacher and mother created a virtual mentoring program. Students of all ages meet weekly and break out into age-appropriate Zoom rooms.
Black-Mitchell and her team said the first priority is listening.
“In our culture, we are overwhelmed with so many things that we don’t listen to kids, and because their social ability had been stripped away because of the pandemic; young people need to talk and really be heard,” the former teacher said.
The next goal of her program is for experts to help the youth understand the importance of taking care of themselves, including nutrition, proper rest and limiting social media.
“You feel better about yourself when you make good food choices and exercise and keep your appearance up. I want them to know that, even at a young age, you have to take care of yourself and your body first.”
And the last part of the program teaches children self-expression through journaling and how to publish their own book.
“This takes their mind off of anxiety, worry, and depression and gets them focused on their long-term goals. They begin to think less about how bad things are right now and what they hate and shift their focus to the future and what they want.”
Black-Mitchell has never been more passionate about mental health than now, after losing her young brother to COVID-19 just last August.
Now, on her own healing journey, she wants to help children in her path.
“This is extremely important and needed. I don’t want them to become overwhelmed with negative emotions. They need to know they’re not alone.”
For more information about the Amazing Kids Mentoring Program, email email@example.com or call (601) 813-3424 or (769-257-0539).
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