Seniors Julia Molino, Sam Fuller and Jasmine Gilroy aim to destigmatize stress


Leah Schroeder

Seniors Jasmine Gilroy, Julia Molino and Sam Fuller perform inventory on their Calming Box in the Science ASC. “Performing inventory is the most boring part of this project, but nonetheless we love each step that gets us closer to having a Calming Box in every classroom,” Molino said.

Seniors Julia Molino, Sam Fuller and Jasmine Gilroy hope to spark conversations about mental health with the introduction of Calming Boxes in classrooms.

Calming Boxes are small boxes containing fidgets such as coloring pages and stress balls. These tools are for students that struggle with anxiety or are just experiencing everyday stress.

“The purpose of the boxes is to destigmatize mental health and give resources to kids in the classroom so their first step isn’t to leave the class in order to calm themselves down,” Gilroy said.

Molino, Fuller and Gilroy pitched the calming box idea to counselors, principals and department leadership.

“I fidget a lot when I present. When we met with the principal and Academic Support Center (ASC) leaders to pitch the boxes, I used one of the fidgets from the boxes,” Molino said.

The boxes have been placed in the principals’ offices and ASC rooms. Molino, who has struggled with her own mental health, hopes that the boxes begin a mental health initiative.

“I hope it sparks conversation about mental health and what we can do even more to help kids that struggle with stress and anxiety. Stress affects everybody. I was lucky enough to learn from my experiences with anxiety and know how to deal with them,” Molino said. “Stress and anxiety are very scary things, and when you don’t know how to calm yourself down from them, they’re even scarier.”

Special education teacher Darla Maynard provided encouragement and financial support to get the Calming Boxes started.

“I have been a cheerleader for them and helped them see how important their knowledge and skills are to the school. The boxes will give an opportunity to help students feel that they are not alone,” Maynard said. “If there’s a box in every room then they know that there are people everywhere needing these things.”

By creating these tools for classrooms, Maynard believes that the girls have made an impact on mental health in the school.

“They are willing to speak up for a population that has not yet had a space or voice in this building, and I’m very proud of them for sharing their voice and ideas and helping others,” Maynard said.