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Mental Health Matters: April 24th

Hello Ellis Families,

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the news that kids won’t return to school this school year and that Ellis will be closed until the end of June. Even if many of us expected the news, the reality of knowing something versus it being a possibility is two very different things.

While we may know what is needed to be safe during this time, it is okay to feel sad about the loss of the life we knew. Adults have been feeling it, and so have our kids. It is okay to take time to grieve together. The important thing to know, though, is that we are together. As an Ellis community, we are here to support you, and despite a physical distance between us our community bond remains strong.

During hard times I have found it is helpful to share kindness with others. This edition of Mental Health Matters shares opportunities for your family to share kindness with those most in need of outreach. Most importantly though, remember to be kind to and nurture yourself.

You are warmly invited to our Caregiver Zoom Chat scheduled for April 30th from 8:15-8:45pm. Courtney Bailey, one of our partners via STRIVE (Supportive Trauma Interventions for Educators) and a skilled clinician, will join us to address how to discuss COVID with our children and provide guidance to help them understand the extended closure. If you are unable to join, please feel free to email me and I’ll gladly share what we discuss and learn.

Thank you and be well,



Breathing Techniques

Breathe like a Bear by Kira Willey is a beautiful book that uses guided imagery and breathing techniques to begin teaching kids about mindfulness. Below is a guided meditation from the book you can share with your child. You might set up a cozy corner in your home for when your child needs to take space or ‘hibernate’. This book can be ordered online, and is also available on Hoopla, an online free lending library.

Bear Breaths

Pretend you are a bear, hibernating for the winter.

When bears hibernate, they breathe sloooooowly in and out through their noses.

Take a long breath in through your nose, and let it all the way out.

Take another long breath in through your nose and let it all the way out.

Feel how cozy and safe you are in your bear cave.

Take one more really long, slow breath in through your nose and let it all the way out.

Kindness in the Time of COVID-19

Color a Smile is a nonprofit that distributes cheerful drawings to senior citizens, troops overseas, and anyone in need of a monthly smile. Children and adults can help spread smiles. Print and color a color-in page, sign it with your first name and age, and mail!

Color A Smile PO Box 1516 Morristown, NJ 07962-1516

Cards for Hospitalized Kids is an internationally recognized nonprofit that spreads hope, joy & magic to hospitalized kids across the country with uplifting, handmade cards. Donate time and creativity to make handmade cards for distribution in hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses across the nation.

729 W. Devon Ave.

Chicago, IL 6063

Hot Tip

April 23rd celebrated World Book Day!

Reading with your child is powerful. It builds your bond and gives children coping skills for when they have big emotions. There are many great books that promote social emotional literacy. Our Vimeo page has read-alouds of books recommended by the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, which has a wonderful list of recommended books and great family resources on their website including some activities modified to reflect COVID-related concerns.

Mental Health and Parent Support

Parental Stress Line: 800-632-8188

• Parental stress line counselors are there to listen to your concerns and problem-solve with you. 24/7, free and confidential.

Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST Team): 800-981-4357

• A mental health emergency hotline to do crisis evaluation and treatment if you feel your child has become a danger to themselves or others in the home

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