By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City’s school district is adding another program to help students not only academically, but emotionally, when it unveils a wellness center at the Intermediate School on Tuesday.
School officials, parents, students and community members are invited to the event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to hear details about the center, which is believed to be one of only a few in the state for an intermediate school. Ocean City has a wellness center at the high school that has been beneficial for the students, officials said.
Attendees will tour the wellness center at the Intermediate School and may ask questions of the staff and school administrators.
During the program Tuesday, the Ocean City New Jersey Education Foundation (OCNJEF) will be presenting a check to Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor with fundraising money to go toward the new wellness center.
In addition to Dr. Taylor and OCNJEF members, there will be a host of district and wellness center staff and administrators.
Stepfanie Grisinger, the Intermediate School Wellness Center student assistance coordinator, and Matthew Carey, the student services director, will be in attendance.
Dr. Buzz Mingin, a brain and behavioral health expert, will give a presentation on self-soothing techniques for anxiety driven behaviors.
“Addressing the social and emotional well-being of our pre-school through 12th grade students has been at the forefront of our work and efforts for almost a decade,” Dr. Taylor said in a statement.
Taylor added, “We have evidence that our programs, staff, resources, involvement with the New Jersey School Boards Association and their Mental Health Task Force, along with the success of the High School Wellness Center, has had a positive impact on our students and school climate.”
Taylor said the district will continue its proactive focus on health and wellness.
“The School Board and I, as well as the administrators and staff, are committed to ensuring that we build a foundation of hope for all of our students,” she said. “We also want to thank the Ocean City Education Foundation for their generous donation to support and fund the set-up of this new Center. ”
OCNJEF Vice President Jennifer Shirk, along with fellow foundation member, Heather James, said they are very pleased with the district’s commitment toward mental health initiatives.
“OCNJEF is proud to support mental health initiatives of the O.C. School District such as the wellness center, because studies show that students who receive social and emotional support are not only more successful in school but in life as well,” Shirk said. “Our schools are really the perfect place to provide mental health wellness services since children spend most of their time there.”
James added, “We are very lucky to live in a community with such supportive businesses and families. That support, hand in hand with the school district, has gone above and beyond making sure our students are happy and healthy.”
She continued, “The generous donations from our annual OCNJEF sponsors are used to give our school district the upper hand in mental health.”