The Importance of a Healthy Learning Environment

This year Lurleen B. Wallace Community College is hosting a “Fit Club” for its students on the Greenville Campus. Every day at 12:15 students can join at the Wendel Mitchell Center to exercise together and discuss health topics. Besides the focus on fitness, the students particularly enjoy the sense of community and positive encouragement from their peers. LBWCC is smart to implement a program that not only builds community, but also gives students an outlet for stress. I’m impressed with LBWCC’s overall commitment to the physical and mental health of their students and it makes me hopeful that our local schools could do the same.

Recently several mothers have come to me about the bullying that their elementary and middle school age daughters endure on a daily basis at their school. While it’s true that school is no cakewalk for anyone, constant bullying at a young age can cause serious and lasting health issues. The National Institutes of Health report that children who are bullied are “at an increased risk for mental health problems, headaches, and problems adjusting to schools.” The greatest health risk for bullied children (and the children who bully them) is depression. Most disturbing is a finding by The Children’s National Health System that bullied kids are more likely to smoke, abuse drugs, engage in self-harming activities such as cutting and of course, commit suicide.

Early awareness and a dedication to student safety and health may be the number one way to combat what seems to be a local issue of bullying. It certainly will take a more conscious effort on the part of administrators and qualified teachers to change the status quo of negative student experiences in any of our local schools. Perhaps adopting a positive attitude of student-centered support, much like that of LBWCC, along with parent involvement and awareness, will help students be more emotionally and academically prepared.

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