Westerville Education Challenge: Social-Emotional Resource Center available online 24/7

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group

The Westerville community now has access to an online Social-Emotional Resource Center, thanks to Westerville Education Challenge.

The nonprofit, all-volunteer organization launched the center Nov. 24 on its website at westervilleeducationchallenge.org to support students' social and emotional wellness.

An online resource center is available through Westerville Education Challenge.

“Our members felt very strongly about finding a way to reach our community with a resource that will help support in time of need,” said Kristan Robertson, WEC board president. “These last few months have been very hard on many, but the reality is people have been struggling long before the pandemic hit.  

“We hope that these resources can be a support to someone in need, help educate and provide some relief or self-help when needed.”

Resources found on the website are available 24/7 and are for families and students in Westerville City Schools, as well as educators and school staff.

The site also has a video library for anyone who supports students.

The center will provide information and assistance that can be accessed immediately, as well as opportunities to build social-emotional skills, develop new strengths and increase understanding of an interconnectedness as a community, according to Robertson.

To no surprise, so many people are struggling right now due to the pandemic, said Tami Santa, coordinator of student well-being/mental health for Westerville City Schools.

“From a district lens, we continue to see a rise in new cases (students/families we had not connected with yet) in need of support, along with an increase in symptoms in already seen students,” she said. “Isolation and physical distance is counterproductive to what most people need in their daily lives. Now more than ever, we need as many helpful resources out there in our community.”

She said the new SERC fits this need perfectly. 

“How cool for more and more people and local organizations to help break the stigma of taking care of our mental health,” Santa said. “And leaning on others when we needed.”

She said some students and families for many reasons do not always seek school out first for social-emotional needs but instead look to family, friends and the internet. 

“If we can help saturate positive resources that will help others, it's a massive win,” Santa said. “Our hope would be for our families and caregivers, along with staff, to find needed resources on SERC. And if they end up pointed back towards school personnel and resources, even better.”

She said the district is very appreciative of such a critical resource.

There is no better time than the present to support the community and lean on each other, said Robertson, who’s also a teacher and parent in the district.  “We are excited about this opportunity to provide a resource which community members can access and find tools and support opportunities to help themselves or someone closer to them.” 

During the first week of the launch, she said, the site has received more than 100 visits. 

“Simply because we care, WEC brings adults from across the district together to show our students that their social and emotional health is worth our investment,” Robertson said.

Since 2009, the WEC has helped more than 10,000 students in Westerville City Schools through the support of programs like Challenge Day, Middle School Transition Events, Middle School Culture Summits, mentoring clubs and teacher grants. More than 1,500 community volunteers and 40 corporate and community sponsors partner with WEC and together have contributed thousands of volunteer hours and raised more than $250,000 in donations.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla