New class at Bettendorf High School teaches students life skills

BETTENDORF, Iowa -- Two Bettendorf High School teachers created a new type of class for students. Instead of hitting the books, these students are hitting the mat and taking a load off.

"We are working on meditation," instructor Daniel Van Winkle said. "Most of the students bring their anxiety in here with them. I think a lot of people discount high school students and the anxiety they are going through."

In January, teachers Daniel Van Winkle and Jennifer Wikan received a $200 grant from the Bettendorf Community School Foundation for a PRIDE Guided Stress Alleviation class. The class can hold 15 to 20 students. Class activities are meditation, open discussion about stress, and yoga.

"Students become so stressed," Bettendorf High School senior Leo Desequeira said. 'How stressed students are, it's crazy."

Desequeria has attended the weekly PRIDE stress class from the beginning.

"Makes you feel confident in yourself that you are going to do good," Desequeira.

The idea for the class came from Social Studies teacher, Mr. Van Winkle. Van Winkle is a student at Western Illinois University, where he is studying for his master's degree in school counseling. Van Winkle saw the benefits of combining physical and mental health and wanted to implement it into the high school.

"Across the board, feelings of anxiety and stress were way down after the class," Van Winkle said. "They felt more connected to the school and the people in the school."

Van Winkle says his research shows that 90% of the students are using the learned techniques in their home lives.

"I think that every student should do this," Desequeira said. "It actually is useful."

Van Winkle says he hopes to continue the class next school year and expand it to more students.

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