NAMPA — Mental and behavioral health is an emerging concern around the nation. Nampa School District is attempting to address and combat the issue in its own district, starting as young as kindergarten.
“We’ve heard teachers across the state talk about if some of these behavioral health and well-being things aren’t addressed, kids aren’t ready to learn, and if we can't address these issues they may even be experiencing outside the school environment, they’re not ready to learn in the school environment," said executive director of Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health Kendra Witt-Doyle.
The foundation is giving the district a $150,000 grant to make strides toward improving youth behavioral health.
“What we really started with was 18-months digging into data, bringing in experts including our own students including telling us what would’ve helped or what would benefit them as we progressed through our system," said Nampa School District superintendent Paula Kellerer.
$50,000 the first year of the three-year grant are going towards three schools: Central Elementary, Sherman Elementary, and West Middle School.
“They were chosen because we needed to start small, and once we develop a model that works and we have evidence that it is working, that we would scale and expand to other schools," said Kellerer.
The money will go toward professional development for teachers, curriculum focused on resiliency, and guest speakers to educate about behavioral health. The hope is students will remember healthy concepts and vocabulary that help them get through difficult tasks.
“Through this grant we wanted to focus on prevention, of knowing there are things that can happen early on in elementary and middle school that feed on to success in high school, and hopefully feed on to successful students that have positive behavior later in high school years, maybe even tied into graduation," said Witt-Doyle.
The foundation says this is a pilot grant to see if this model works for behavioral health. If it does, they want to scale and expand to other districts across the state.