The Press In Project is an initiative led and supported by Intégré Leadership Development. We work directly with schools in order to reach and train up student leaders, build stronger cultural climates within the school and help staff and students develop an emotionally safe environment.
Today’s students face many challenges. Some are not new challenges to this generation but some are, and some just present differently. Studies show that people who understand how to process their emotions live longer, healthier and happier lives. We believe that mental and emotional health begins with education and prevention.
Why do we put so much effort into the Press In Project? 1. Because we believe that the earlier a person can become emotionally intelligent, the better off they will be. 2. Because we believe that investing in our future begins with investing in kids. They are the future. 3. And because we really like kids. They’re cool and they need to know that we believe in them, that they matter and their voices are needed today and tomorrow.
The Press In Project works with schools and students on multiple fronts:
When kids feel valued, heard and seen, they naturally speak up more and begin to feel part of the school community which leads to better attendance, more class engagement, less missed assignments, better grades and higher graduation rates. Rather than pushing that “attendance matters,” we feel that it should begin with “you matter,” and “your presence matters in this school and in this class.” This starts by listening to the students, helping them listen and care about each other’s stories and building a culture where staff and students truly care about each other through an emotionally safe, healthy and intentional process. It is through this initiative that cliques and segregated groups begin to dissolve, making space for new ideas, perspectives and people. We also work with schools to build school and team spirit beginning in the younger grades and schools through rallies, student to student mentorship and helping develop branding and vision statements such as: “What does it look like to be a (fill in your high school mascot here)?” When kids get excited about their next steps early, they enter the next level of school already feeling like they belong. By tackling identity and empathy issues, students begin to develop their emotional intelligence at an earlier age and will have less retraining work to do as adults. Imagine a generation of adults that are already emotionally, mentally and relationally healthy and mature when they enter the workforce and start families. What a difference that would make in this world!
The Press In Project works to implement advisory and student processing groups in order to unpack trauma that the student body will undoubtedly experience from time to time. For instance, unfortunately April 20, 1999 forever changed how safe our students feel at school. The Columbine High School shootings began an onslaught of school violence that has left a mark on how safe our schools feel and are. The fact is that we live in a time when school lockdowns are a reality and during a lockdown it is unknown to staff and students whether a threat is real, or false, or whether the situation is under control, until after the threat has been resolved. Imagine, for a moment being told to lock your classroom door, hide under desks and in closets and be silent as you try to get a text out to your parents and pray you don’t die. Now imagine that 15 min to several hours later, you are told that it was a false threat and you should return to class as normal. Some students are lucky enough to have a teacher that will take the time to unpack their feelings and experience, but without a centralized plan in place, many kids will simply return to their daily schedule. What have they learned in that time? One, to stuff their feelings and move on without processing or two, to desensitize themselves to the threat and stop taking future lockdowns seriously. Neither of those outcomes are healthy for many reasons. The Press In Project works with schools to set up safe and planned times to meet together in small groups and we offer training to staff in how to help themselves and the students chose to pause and process the traumatic event prior to moving on with their day using a centralized and consistent program. Acute trauma isn’t the only thing that can affect a student’s mental and emotional health. Consider the many losses that all of us have had due to the Covid pandemic. It has certainly taken a toll on students in many ways including loss of freedom and community, less classroom support from teachers, possible gaps in learning, added responsibility at home, lost high school memories, perhaps the loss of a loved one and more. Creating safe and healthy ways to discuss and process their feelings or struggles during this time would be of great benefit to the student body as well as the individual students.
Another area that the Press In Project tackles is working with coaches and athletic teams in order to build synergy, community and mental and emotional health with the individual athletes and as a team. We do this through team building meetings, challenges, special events and retreats. Every coach knows that the physical part of the game is only one part of success. The community, mental and emotional health of a team makes up a huge part of a successful program. We can work with athletic programs during the off season or with a team during the current season. We partner with the athletic director or coach in order to develop a flexible plan that fit with each individual group.
The Press In Project’s works with schools through our Student Leadership Program. This program is specifically designed to raise up and train students to be community leaders for today and tomorrow. While there are already programs within schools for advanced and outstanding students such as school council, National Honor Society, or key club where students must be elected or nominated either after reaching a certain grade point average or through a student election process, the Press In Project’s Leadership Program is designed for average students that show potential but need someone to believe in them, challenge them, help them develop goals and hold them accountable to those goals. Studies show that many successful adults were average students. This tells us that a huge amount of the population could benefit from leadership training and not just the advanced and standout students. Our Student Leadership Program works with staff, administration, school counselors and teachers who nominate a student that they feel stands out and would rise to the challenge if given the opportunity. If accepted and the student agrees to commit themselves to the program, they will join other students for a semester-long program in which they will meet as a group on a monthly basis, work through leadership development challenges and projects as a group, rotate monthly homework partners and receive personal coaching. These students will learn how to develop S.M.A.R.T. goals, and learn how to advocate for themselves and others. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a certificate of completion and can add it to resumes and college applications. This program is free to the students and sponsored by Intégré Leadership Development.
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