NewsHillsborough County


Zen gardens help Tampa Bay area elementary school students deal with anxiety and stress

“It’s like relaxing at the beach!”
student zen garden
Posted at 4:11 AM, Mar 06, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Eden is hard at work on her unquebgarden.

She rakes the sand and puts her birds in a row.

“It’s like relaxing at the beach,” says the second-grader at Lanier Elementary in Tampa. “I feel better about myself.”

Eden is working on a Zen garden.

student zen garden 2.png

It is a new program at Lanier started by art teacher Karen Stonis. She got the idea and many of the supplies after a recent stop in Japan.

“Something like this, even raking the sand, it’s all very calming,” says Stonis, who also took the Zen gardens to Tampa’s Chiaramonte Elementary. “This is meant to de-stress, to decompress.”

RELATED: St. Pete elementary students using yoga to help boost their self-esteem and raise grades

Anxiety in kids as young as first and second grade is a growing issue.

Stonis wanted to do something positive for students’ mental health.

The Zen gardens are an overwhelming hit.

“I tell them all the time, they need something like this in their life,” says Stonis. “Anything that will help you manage stress.”