Wonder Women – western Kansas women launch initiative to help children with anxiety

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HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) – Coming together to help others. The Wonder Women League in Hays was created on the foundation of helping others under the United Way of Ellis County.

The group, made up of 75 women, recently launched an initiative aimed at easing stress and worry among children through the use of anxiety-coping items in a ‘self-soothing box.’

This comes after Hays mental health professionals saw a rise in symptoms of anxiety within their local community.

“So it is definitely a stressful time for everybody,” said Terri Braun, Recovery Worker at High Plains Mental Health Center.

The boxes contain items such as bubble-wrap, silly putty, a fidget spinner, a journal, and other coping tools. 

“Many people think coping skills have to be fancy. Coping skills can be something as simple as drawing circles. It’s amazing how that simple act can be soothing,” said Braun

The anxiety tools work to connect children to their five senses, helping them stay grounded in a stressful environment.

“It’s important that we help them identify their feelings, and then help them learn how to deal with their feelings,” said Braun.

Items like bubbles and pinwheels promote deep breathing whereas the Play-Doh and stress ball help children release tension and relax.

“It takes their mind off of whatever they’re dealing with right at that moment, and it’s fun, and it’s entertaining, and it gives them a moment of joy in an otherwise stressful period,” said Nancy Jeter, Co-Chair of Wonder Women League.

Professionals say anxiety can stem from a variety of factors such as stress at school, fear, and family conflicts. This can lead to symptoms like lack of concentration, stomach aches, and difficulty sleeping.

“You know, a lot of times adults and the whole world are just too busy for them, and if this can help them in any way, we’d like to be a part of that,” said Jeter.

The boxes work to distract kids from worrisome thoughts, overwhelming feelings, bringing them back to the present moment.

They can also be used to help adults suffering with anxiety as well.

“That’s the goal. Is to make somebody’s day a little bit easier, on top of what they already have to deal with,” said Sara Hicks, Wonder Women League member. “You have to focus on that little glimmer of good.”

The women created 108 boxes that will benefit three different area mental health and counseling centers.  

For more information on the Wonder Women League as well as other initiatives they are apart of, click here.

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