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Local high schoolers receive self-care backpacks thanks to local effort

More than 4,000 backpacks were sent home with high school students filled with information and tools to help teens cope in uncertain times.

Posted: Dec 16, 2020 4:16 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) More than 4,000 backpacks were sent home with high school students filled with information and tools to help teens cope in uncertain times.

Steering the project was Jean West, a counselor and trauma expert with the St. Joseph School District.

“The kids in our community, there are many of them that have lived through and in some very difficult situations, and so, we do a tremendous amount as a district to reach out to these students because we, of course, are concerned academically, and we are also very concerned about their emotional well beings,” West said.

The group behind the backpack project was on a mission to give self-care kits to all high school students in Buchanan County.

“The health department was able to fund this initiative through a grant they received and in the backpacks is a pamphlet that explains adverse childhood experiences, toxic stress and wellness initiatives that you can do to help during any kind of thing that may be a difficult issue for you but especially now when we are all experiencing a great amount of stress,” West said.

While West and the St. Joseph Health Department took the lead on the project, multiple organizations, volunteers and advocates participated including members of the United Way St. Joseph’s Leadership class and Missouri Western students.

The kits were filled with a journal, frisbee, information, and ideas to help teens prevent and cope with stress caused by adverse childhood experiences.

“In the backpacks are just some things that can help them understand what they are going through, help them stay active and to work through the emotions they may be having,” West said.

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