Students & Staff Embrace Breathe for Change

Students & Staff Embrace Breathe for Change
Posted on 01/24/2023

RRHS Students and Staff Embrace Breathe for Change

By: Loree Johnson

Breathe for Change, led by Taylor Lunderville, former RRHS student, is helping RRHS students and staff improve their mental health and well-being.

RRHS Principal Hector Estrada said he partnered with Lunderville to bring Breathe for Change, a program designed to provide social-emotional learning and improve mindfulness, to the school in an “effort to  address students’ needs” which is “part of our philosophy at RRHS.”

He stated, “As part of our continuous school improvement process, we solicit feedback and information from all stakeholders and one group in particular, our students. During student feedback and surveys, students expressed the need to receive targeted support which helps with students' mental wellbeing.”

Lunderville’s interest in Breathe for Change came from her own experience with anxiety and depression as a result of some personal challenges.

She found the program online and said it helped her “connect with” and to “love and accept” herself.

It inspired her so much that she wanted to become a facilitator.

She said, “I am committed to my own healing and want to help others.”

She completed 200 hours of instruction and began bringing what she learned in the program to her role as an aide in a kindergarten class. One student she worked with was disruptive. As she worked with him and implemented some of the strategies, he became calmer and easier to work with.

Now she is making changes on a wider scale as she implements Breathe for Change across the RRHS campus.

RRHS Photography teacher Melanie Estrada was the first teacher to begin weekly sessions with Lunderville in her classroom.

She observed at the beginning of the year that many students were “suffering with anxiety.”  

Her students now ask for it. She said, “It gives them the break they need. Their mindset is changing. . . Students have time to slow down and think more rather than react.”

Her students are appreciative and one student even wrote Lunderville a thank you note.

She is committed to making this investment of class time stating, “If it helps even one person, it is worth it.”

RRHS Strength Coach Jennifer Meza is another teacher who welcomed Lunderville into her classes “with open arms.”

She stated,  “Breathe for Change has given them the tools needed to handle hard situations, emotions, and circumstances.”

Overall her students have benefitted from the sessions, and she has even incorporated the techniques into her weight room sessions.

RRHS CTE Sports Medicine teacher and Head Track and Field Coach Alex Hix also regularly invites Lunderville to work with her students. She said it actually helps her students meet Sports Medicine CTE standards, but she also does it for their emotional and mental well-being.

She stated, “Over my few years of teaching I have seen the emotional, physical and mental toll the world really does take on the human condition.”

She started “Wellness Wednesday” her first year of teaching to give students “a day to connect the mind and body.” Because she already had this routine established, including Breathe for Change was an easy transition.

Many students are reacting positively to the program. Three RRHS juniors expressed their appreciation for the sessions.

Ana Enriquez said that Breathe for Change teaches “valuable lessons and coping skills for us students who feel anxious or struggle with our mental health” and believes that “anyone can benefit from Breathe for Change.”  

Leah Hetherington stated, “It gave me some type of awareness of what was on my plate and what I had to get done and of all that was weighing me down in terms of stress.”

It helped me feel more calm and relaxed overall,” said Angela Atrian.

In order to help more students, Lunderville will soon offer after school sessions at RRHS.

It is her goal to expand her work so that eventually the whole district embraces Breathe for Change.