Zen den

Furnish a Future turned an unused classroom at West Lincoln Middle School into a "zen den."

VALE – The Furnish a Future faction of the Denver United Methodist Church Helping Hands ministry ventured into western Lincoln County to tackle a unique project at West Lincoln Middle School.

Furnish a Future typically assists families in need with home furnishings, but after stumbling upon a Facebook post about a school that recently unveiled a new meditation room, the ministry decided to pool its resources to create a “zen den” at a Lincoln County school.

“I previously worked as the assistant principal at Lincolnton High School and Furnish a Future had helped a couple of our students with their living situations, so I decided to follow them on Facebook because they provide a really great service to the community,” West Lincoln Middle School principal Kristie Ballard said.

Furnish a Future spent more than two months transforming an unused classroom into a peaceful, non-school-like environment. The room was painted dark green and the lights can be dimmed to calm the mood. Big rugs fill the floor and a canopy structure sits in the center. Chairs and floor cushions situated around the room provide comfortable seating and four writing stations stocked with brand new journals, gel pens, coloring pencils and other items for the students line one of the walls.

Each item in the room was donated and placed by volunteers dedicated to creating the unique space.

“This year, we’ve really been trying to work with our kids on making sure that the consequence for their action incorporates a little bit of a learning opportunity or some restorative practices,” Ballard said. “Middle school students are at a tough age because they’re starting to feel that independence, but there’s a tug there between still being a kid and growing up. What we see a lot of times is their actions are very impulsive because they don’t have a lot of coping skills, so they don’t know what to do when something frustrates them other than to just react. We thought that if we could provide this space that’s different and calming, then maybe we could bring our students there to help them learn how to cope with what’s bothering them.”

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