DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — After last month's STEM School shooting, the district reached out to Columbine survivors to get an understanding on ways they handled the stress after the 1999 attack. And one survivor was inspired to do something more by providing every STEM classroom with "calm down boxes."
Crystal Woodman-Miller knows the pain of witnessing tragedy. She was in the library at Columbine High School that fateful day 20 years ago.
She now speaks to students going through similar tragedies, but now she wants to deliver a message of comfort and hope with boxes filled with curated items that help aid in the healing process.
She is putting together 90 calm down boxes filled with things like sensory therapy toys, coloring books, crayons, and neck pillows.
"If they're feeling any emotions of fear, anxiety, confusion, just an overall lack of concentration — they can step away for a few moments and use any of the items in the box," Woodman-Miler said. It takes just a couple of minutes, and it resets their mind."
"There's really psychological studies to show that when you focus on a detail on that emotion, that it passes," she said. "And we're giving them tools to heal well because you can't heal if you don't feel it."
It's her way of helping students heal, something she didn't have access to 20 years ago.
"I think what we are doing in these communities, with these boxes, is really a message to say 'hey, we're with you! We're with you for the long run!" She said.
Woodman-Miller said every teacher would be trained on how to use the boxes. Along with the wishlist, she hopes to get a corporate donor involved to help purchase items, so they're ready for the opening of the 2019-20 school year.