(Nov. 30, 2018) Ocean City Elementary School students can get by with a little help from their new friends: Kimochi's.
The school received a $4,400 grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore for “teacher training, and for materials that come with the [Kimochi] curriculum.”
School Counselor Linda McGean said Kimochis are stuffed animals within a “social and emotional curriculum used in elementary schools to help kids regulate their emotions, to understand how they’re feeling.”
McGean said this educational program could not be integrated into the curriculum at Ocean City Elementary School without a little help.
“We are so grateful to both the Jesse Klump Memorial [Fund Inc.,] and the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore,” she said. “They are always there looking out for education, you know if there is a need they’re there to fill it, and we are really grateful for that.”
The Jesse Klump Memorial Fund Inc. was established in 2009 by Worcester resident Kim Klump after her son, Jesse, a Snow Hill High School senior, took his own life.
McGean said she first learned about the Kimochi program when she – along with five other guidance counselors in Worcester County – received the initial grant for a kit, which includes the stuffed animals, over the summer.
McGean said the initial grant for approximately $500 came from the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund.
“When I got this I thought … this is wonderful, my teachers will love this, but they need to have it,” McGean said.
McGean said the school currently has nine kits between the kindergarten, preK3 and preK4 classes. She also stressed the importance for the kits to be used in the classrooms to prepare teachers and students for a myriad of situations.
“It should be available for the teacher every day to do quick little five-to-10-minute lessons, and then when things happen … she can pull out the kimochis, talk about how everybody’s feeling, [and] how they can solve this problem,” McGean said.
Children are able to express their emotions through these stuffed animals. They can also use techniques to gauge how they’re feeling, cope and learn to solve problems in a comfortable setting.
“It’s very tactile,” McGean said. “Kids love things they can hold.”
McGean also emphasized the benefits this program has specifically for Ocean City Elementary School. She went on to say how many students encounter mature obstacles at home including homelessness, addiction, divorce and separation.
“We have a lot of children who are dealing with trauma,” she said. “Things that have happened in their family or their personal lives.”
For students dealing with issues outside the classroom, McGean said it is important to allow the school’s hallowed halls to serve as a refuge.
“Being able to talk about emotions and relationships and feel more secure here at school,” she said. “To know that school is a safe place.”
However, she stressed the importance of addressing these problems first in order to have successful educational experience.
McGean said she hopes to “expand it into first grade eventually.” She added a benefit to this program is once its materials are purchased; it’s an advantageous investment.
*This article has been updated to change an error in the total amount of money received in the grant.