We heard from many participants a clear call for schools to develop the whole child and put an emphasis on children’s holistic development. Respondents shared their belief that schools should provide more than just an education on academic subjects, but also provide supports and opportunities for that child to become a well-rounded individual. Some ideas that participants had for what could be introduced to schools include: conflict resolution; coping skills; relaxation/mindfulness techniques; character education; and self-esteem building. Also encompassed in this were respondent suggestions for more physical activity in schools, and calls for recess for elementary school children every day.
Participants also acknowledged the emotional issues that many students in the city are burdened with, and called for more access to social services or wraparound services for students. Respondents stated that students should have more access to counselors, mental health specialists and mentors who can help students deal with and understand their emotions. Participants also called for schools to have the ability to provide the basic necessities for children. As one citizen from Madison/East End stated: “You can’t concentrate if you’re hungry, [or] if you’re scared.” While some respondents indicated that their schools had strong programs that supported students, participants thought that the district should work to increase their availability.