Blue Cross picks 75 schools for ‘calming rooms’

Program will help students deal with stress and anxiety

Kadyn Losing, 17, Parkview High School student body vice president, helps paint the walls of the new Take Good Care Calming Room at the school in Little Rock on Wednesday. The calming room is part of an initiative from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which is funding the creation of calming rooms in schools throughout the state with a goal of helping improve the mental health of Arkansas students.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephen Swofford)
Kadyn Losing, 17, Parkview High School student body vice president, helps paint the walls of the new Take Good Care Calming Room at the school in Little Rock on Wednesday. The calming room is part of an initiative from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which is funding the creation of calming rooms in schools throughout the state with a goal of helping improve the mental health of Arkansas students. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephen Swofford)


Seventy-five Arkansas schools have been selected to receive $2,500 each from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to open "calming rooms" on their campuses for use by students who need to de-stress or otherwise regulate their emotions.

The company announced its Take Good Care Calming Room initiative in July in an effort to address the needs of some 83,100 Arkansas students -- better than one in 10 students -- who deal with anxiety and depression.

"The same way students have difficulty focusing in class when they are hungry or tired, they can't be their best selves in the classroom or at home if they are dealing with issues like stress and anxiety," Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield President and Chief Executive Officer Curtis Barnett said in announcing the grants.

"In recognition of Arkansas Blue Cross' 75th Anniversary and our company's commitment to improving access to behavioral health resources, we are investing in the creation of calming rooms in 75 Arkansas schools as one way to support better mental health for students," Barnett said.

Calming rooms are intended to give students a quiet place to reflect and refocus so they can perform their best when they return to the classroom.

Each participating school will oversee the rules and usage of their calming rooms based on the needs of their students. The spaces can also be used for counseling sessions and group discussions.

Calming rooms typically feature soft lighting, tranquil colors, comfortable furniture, positive and inspirational messages, and journals, coloring books and other sensory objects.

Schools selected to receive calming room grants are:

Arkansas County: DeWitt High School

Ashley County: Hamburg Middle School

Baxter County: Guy Berry College and Career Academy

Benton County: Founders Classical Academy, Bentonville

Boone County: Harrison High School

Bradley County: Warren High School

Calhoun County: Hampton Middle School

Carroll County: Eureka Springs High School

Clark County: Gurdon High School

Clay County: Piggott High School

Cleburne County: Heber Springs Middle School

Cleveland County: Woodlawn Elementary School

Columbia County: Apostolic Christian Academy

Conway County: Morrilton High School

Craighead County: Bay Elementary School

Crawford County: Butterfield Trail Middle School

Crittenden County: Earle High School

Cross County: Wynne High School

Dallas County: Fordyce High School

Drew County: Monticello High School

Faulkner County: Mayflower Middle School

Franklin County: Ozark Middle School

Fulton County: Salem School District

Garland County: Mountain Pine Elementary School

Grant County: Sheridan High School

Greene County: Paragould Junior/Senior High School

Hempstead County: Hope High School

Hot Spring County: Bismarck Public Schools

Howard County: Nashville Junior High School

Independence County: Cedar Ridge High School

Izard County: Calico Rock High School

Jackson County: Tuckerman High School

Jefferson County: Pine Bluff Junior High School

Johnson County: Lamar High School; Oark High School

Lafayette County: Lafayette County High School

Lawrence County: Hillcrest Elementary School

Lincoln County: Star City High School

Little River County: Ashdown High School

Logan County: Paris Middle School

Lonoke County: Cabot Middle School South

Madison County: Huntsville Middle School

Marion County: Ozark Mountain School District

Mississippi County: Blytheville Chickasaw Preparatory Academy; Armorel High School

Monroe County: Brinkley High School

Montgomery County: Mount Ida High School

Nevada County: Nevada Elementary School

Newton County: Deer K-12 School; Mt. Judea K-12 School

Ouachita County: Camden Fairview Middle School

Perry County: Anne Watson Elementary School

Phillips County: J.F. Wahl Elementary School; Barton High School

Pike County: Murfreesboro High School

Poinsett County: Trumann Middle School

Polk County: Mena High School

Pope County: Secondary Learning Center; Russellville High School

Prairie County: Hazen Public Schools

Pulaski County: Little Rock West High School of Innovation

Randolph County: M.D. Williams Intermediate School

Saline County: Benton Junior High School

Scott County: Waldron High School

Searcy County: Leslie Intermediate School

Sebastian County: Trinity Catholic School

Sevier County: Horatio Public School

Sharp County: Cave City Middle School

Saint Francis County: Palestine-Wheatley Senior High School

Stone County: Mountain View School District

Union County: Junction City Elementary School

Van Buren County: South Side Bee Branch

Washington County: Ramay Junior High School

White County: Pangburn High School

Woodruff County: Augusta Elementary School

Yell County: Dardanelle Middle School

Arkansas Blue Cross did not receive applications from schools in all 75 counties as initially hoped," Barnett said, "but we still wanted to fund 75 rooms, so we looked closely at the applications and were able to select additional schools in a few counties."

CORRECTION: Grants of $2,500 are going to establish calming rooms in 75 schools, including Apostolic Christian Academy in Columbia County, Calico Rock High School in Izard County, Trumann Middle School in Poinsett County, and Dardanelle Middle School in Yell County. An earlier version of this story misspelled two of the counties and omitted one of the schools.