JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - "We want to treat the child as a whole here," said Paragould School District Student Health Services Director, Lynn Treece.
The goal is to, in part, help meet physical, emotional, and mental needs.
"Their absentee rate is lower, their academic performance increases, they're happier, so naturally they'll feel better and they're going to learn more," said Treece.
Lynn Treece says she's hopeful a 950 thousand dollar grant to be spread out over 5 years will help achieve all of that.
"Anyone that would have a need, we want to be able to address that in our wellness center," said Treece.
Treece says the wellness center will be located in existing space in the high school. She adds the first year will include immunizations, education about risky behaviors like tobacco and alcohol use, std's and teen pregnancy--as well as be staffed with an RN and licensed mental health professional.
"It may be a stressor that's causing them to have poor academic performance that we may be able to help them with coping skills or they may have test anxiety and we can work with them in different ways," said Treece.
During the first year, Treece says the services will be for 9th -12th graders, but over the years, they plan to not only expand grade levels, but services offered too.
"We would be offering more of the health services on our campus. We would be able to do well child physicals. We would be able to work with physicians in the community," said Treece.
Treece says they're already examining ways to sustain the program, so when the grant money runs out, services offered will continue.
"It is a need and we want to fulfill that need in a school setting," said Treece.
Treece says this grant will offer classes and conventions to help plan for sustainability. Treece adds parental consent is a must before kids can participate in any of the wellness center programs and all of the information is confidential. She says while professionals will be in place in a couple of weeks to start seeing students, the full center will be open January first.