Jefferson Elementary receives mental health resources from Nationwide Children's Hospital, Big Lots

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star

Jefferson Elementary School was one of many schools across the country to celebrate the On Our Sleeves movement and receive funding for mental health resources from the Nationwide Children's Hospital and Big Lots on Thursday, Sept. 23.

Fourth and fifth grade students of Jefferson Elementary School were the ones to accept a $1,000 gift card from Big Lots and learn about On Our Sleeves.

According to Maggie Igel, assistant director for Nationwide Children's Hospital and On Our Sleeves representative, the purpose of On Our Sleeves is to provide necessary tools to students, families and educators and help them better understand the importance of mental health.

Fourth and fifth grade students at Jefferson Elementary School learning about the On Our Sleeves movement.

"Nationwide Children's Hospital, in partnership with mental health experts across the country, have started the On Our Sleeves movement, which is the movement to break the stigma around children's pediatric mental health," Igel said.

She explained On Our Sleeves also has a partnership with Big Lots, which has been raising money for the movement through "The One Million Classroom Project" campaign.

"What (we celebrated) today is their recent campaign where we're focusing on getting evidence based pediatric mental health resources into a million classes across America," she said.

The organizations hope to complete this project by World Mental Health Day, which is October 10.

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According to Samantha Little, customer assistant representative at Big Lots, she is one of many from the company who've asked people for donations to the cause.

She said it's the mission of Big Lots to help Nationwide Children's Hospital provide needed brochures, packets and other resources about mental health and emotional awareness to students ages one to 13.

Little is happy to be part of this movement and feels it's an important message to spread.

"I think that mental awareness in children is very important because you have a whole spectrum of emotions and as you're growing up you might not always recognize what those emotions are, so being able to have awareness and conversations makes you become a better human being," Little said.

Big Lots Customer Service Representative Samantha Little with fourth and fifth grade students at Jefferson Elementary School as they celebrate the One Our Sleeves movement.

According to Big Lots District Manager Ken Liberton, the Big Lots in Shawnee raised the most money in its zone out of about 450 stores and was third out of about 14,028 stores in the country.

"So our customers and our communities are so supportive of these types of things and we want to help the people within our community, which is why we're here today," he said.

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Jefferson was given the funds to purchase mental health resources from Big Lots, such as fidget spinners and other tools that help with mindfulness.

Igel is one of several representatives from On Our Sleeves visiting schools across the country.

"It's really rewarding to see the work On Our Sleeves and (Big Lots) are doing and see the kids react positively to it," she said.

Elisabeth Slay is a Reporter with The Shawnee News-Star. She can be reached at (405) 214-3926 or eslay@news-star.com