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Formed by a group of female students, Westridge’s FLY (First Love Yourself) group was established to help students struggling with self-esteem. “Two of our interns came up with the idea for the group,” said Westridge Social Worker Callie Gallacher. “Every so often we give the girls a survey and ask them for suggestions and topics. Then we give lessons address those concerns.”
“It was touching to see the quality of conversations happening,” said Gallacher. “Conversations about ‘what it means to love yourself’ and ‘how to boost your self-esteem’ became powerful peer discussions.”
“As a school social worker, I meet frequently with student groups that address these important topics,” said Gallacher. “Besides our FLY group, we have other clubs and squads dedicated to similar causes. Causes that focus on kindness, charity and hope.”
“It is important to us (as a school) that we equip our students with resiliency skills (skills that help students more easily navigate their emotions). Our biggest hope is that students will take what they learned about kindness and relationships and practice it in the classroom.”
“A favorite learning tool we like to rehearse with our students is called ‘positive thinking.’”
Popular among practicing sociologists and psychologists, positive thinking can help students achieve improved social and emotional health. Whether a student is thinking, “I’m not good at math,” or “I have no friends,” positive thinking opens their minds to brighter perspectives and opportunities like, “I have the ability to get better at math,” or “Mrs. Gallacher can help me think of ways to make new friends.”
“We care about their academic learning experience,” said Gallacher, “but we also care about their social and emotional well-being. Chances are, if their emotional and social health are in good standing, their overall learning experience is better.”