Living Classrooms and Michael Phelps Foundation Provide Wellness Opportunity to Baltimore City Students This Summer

July 23, 2020

Wellness Activity Boxes create opportunities to help children manage the emotional effects of the global pandemic on themselves and their families 

Press Release – July 23, 2020, Baltimore, MD – Living Classrooms Foundation and the Michael Phelps Foundation have partnered to create an in-home Wellness Activity Box for children and youth in grades 1-8. While we collectively explore how to best navigate our current situation, either alone or sharing space with others,having the vocabulary to express feelings clearly is a necessary life skill. The organizations recognize the need to prioritize our mental wellness and are investing in our youngest community members who often don’t yet have the skills to manage their emotional wellbeing. Utilizing the Michael Phelps Foundation’sIM Healthy program’s social-emotional curriculum – lesson plans and activities created in partnership with Nemours KidsHealth.org – Living Classrooms educators will utilize its evidence-based practices and principles to build emotional skills that every child needs.  

“IM Healthy is a simple and easy toolkit for teaching the emotional skills that help kids to do well. And in challenging times, kids need these skills even more,” says D’Arcy Lyness, PhD, child and adolescent psychologist and behavioral health editor for Nemours KidsHealth.org. “The lessons teach kids to know and name their feelings, be confident, notice good things, build grit and perseverance, and handle difficult feelings like nervousness or sadness. These are basic skills that every kid needs – now and as they grow.” 

Each Wellness Activity Box includes IM Healthy lesson plans focused on topics such as breathing techniques, mindful movement, self-talk, and conversation starters to talk about difficult emotions.  They will also contain supplies like crayons for drawing and coloring, Play-Doh for stress relief, a journal for documenting feelings, and links to corresponding YouTube instructional videos and live workouts led by Living Classrooms staff.  The lessons can be completed by students asynchronously using the provided weekly calendar and live support will be available to all students via video conferencing, so they can ask questions and get feedback from a trained Living Classrooms staff member. 

“I know how challenging times can really impact the mental health of adults, but children are affected by it too and we want to provide them with support to help them understand what they may be experiencing,” said Michael Phelps, MPF Founder and Board President. “Good mental health is just as important as good physical health and the IM program provides social, emotional, wellness and goal setting lessons that they can utilize. While we are all eager for life to return to normal, we want to remind children and adults of the importance of mental health.”  

 Distribution of the Wellness Activity Boxes began on Thursday, June 16, 2020 at previously established food distribution sites in Baltimore City. Living Classrooms will build at least 1,500 boxein total that have been distributed weekly through partnering summer programs, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  250 boxes have been reserved specifically for students of Living Classrooms’ virtual summer programs that began on July 13, 2020 

 Society and the life experiences of children and youth have changed considerably in recent years and it is imperative that we not only educate them but also support their social and emotional growth,” said James Piper Bond, President and CEO, Living Classrooms Foundation.  “We are grateful to the Phelps Foundation for this important support, especially during a time when current events are taking an increased toll on youth and their families,”  

 The Michael Phelps Foundation previously provided a grant to Living Classrooms in the summer of 2019 to deliver swimming education to 275 Baltimore City students, who typically have poor access to such services.   

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About Michael Phelps Foundation  

The Michael Phelps Foundation (MPF) is focused on promoting water safety, healthy living, and the pursuit of dreams, especially for children. Founded in 2008, MPF has provided learn-to-swim, healthy living, and goal-setting programming to more than 100,000 children and young adults around the world through strategic partnerships with the Boys & Girls Club of America, Special Olympics International, and the Level Field Fund. For more information, please visit: http://www.michaelphelpsfoundation.org.  

About Living Classrooms

Living Classrooms Foundation is a Baltimore-Washington, DC-based nonprofit that disrupts the cycle of poverty and helps the communities we serve become safer, stronger, and healthier by meeting individuals where they are and building skills for life. We inspire children, youth, and adults to achieve their potential through hands-on education, workforce development, health and wellness, and violence prevention programming, using urban, natural, and maritime resources as “living classrooms.” Living Classrooms Foundation has been serving the community since 1985. More at: www.livingclassrooms.org. 

About Nemours KidsHealth® 

Nemours KidsHealth.org is the #1 site devoted to children’s health and development – in English and Spanish – reaching more than 235 million parents, kids, and teens each year. Part of the Nemours Center for Health Delivery Innovation, KidsHealth.org develops content and digital tools to engage and motivate families to get answers, help, and the care they need. Nemours KidsHealth also creates KidsHealth in the Classroom, a free website for educators featuring standards-based health curricula, activities, and handouts. KidsHealth comes from Nemours, an internationally recognized children’s health system that provides pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy, and prevention programs to families. For more information, please visit Nemours KidsHealth.org.