Therapeutic Support and Connection During a Health Crisis

April 9, 2020

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 health crisis has and continues to be a challenging time for all of us. We’re being tasked with doing things differently. Shop differently. Parent differently. Work differently. And so on. Sometimes the bandwidth for managing all of this change can feel unsteady.

For Green Chimneys School students, many of whom face social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, change of any proportion can be overwhelming and sometimes even debilitating. At Green Chimneys, our children are receiving the therapeutic support they need to develop essential skills. With our help, students are increasing self-awareness, enhancing social emotional learning, developing coping tools and ultimately becoming the navigators of their own emotional regulation.

Animation of staff connecting via phone. One in the chicken coop. The other working remotely. They were awaiting a student to hop on the call to see how his favorite chickens were doing.

Green Chimneys staff are utilizing technology, teamwork, and creativity now more than ever. For one student, not being able to visit the chicken coop during his weekly therapy sessions has been tough. Social Worker Tara Doran partnered with Animal Caretaker Danielle Powers providing the student the chance to get a real-time update on his favorite feathered friends.

As both a special education school and residential treatment center for children with special needs, ensuring connection and therapeutic support is maintained during a time of great change has been a top priority. Teachers and teacher’s assistants, residential life staff, social workers and clinical specialists, recreational therapists, animal caretakers and more are staying connected with students and families. Using online tools to develop lessons, cell phones to check-in and in some cases even relying on good old-fashioned mail, we’re keeping the lines of communication open and the ties that bind us strong.

We can never fully express our pride in the entire Green Chimneys staff. Their commitment to our children and animals and to each other is truly outstanding. Essential staff is helping students residing at Green Chimneys to maintain social distancing, keep up with school work and make time to enjoy recreational activities. The essential staff is meeting the needs of student residents: the kitchen and health center are running, dorms are clean, etc. A team of animal caretakers ensures our 300+ animals receive the care and enrichment necessary. Much of our non-essential staff is telecommuting, enabling therapy sessions and emotional support, morning school announcements, a sense of connection and more.

Taking Care of Yourself and Those You Love

It’s important to acknowledge too that the health crisis and the current climate can affect us as individuals. We’re offering weekly support meetings for staff and as well as providing additional resources to our families. There are also a multitude of online resources available. If you or someone you know is struggling with social isolation, anxiety, or fear, please connect with a healthcare professional. Together, we will get through this.

Mental Health Resources*

For helping children cope

General mental wellness support

* These resources are provided in an effort to share information. Green Chimneys does not endorse or prescribe any specific organization or approach. If you believe you or someone you love is experiencing a medical or behavioral health emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.