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'Hope Ambassador' schools launch pilot program to teach students mental health skills

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Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 18:39:23-04

LARGO, Fla. — When most of us were young, mental health wasn’t even something mentioned in school, but a new program is working to change that.

"Nothing is more constant in education than change and I think that as we evolve as a profession, the mental health of our kids and families come to the forefront," said Brad Finkbiner, Largo High School principal.

In February, First Lady Casey DeSantis launched a resiliency initiative for Florida schools. The goal is to rethink mental health and teach students ways to understand and persevere through hard times.

Something that schools know a lot about, especially after this past year.

"A school is a huge, huge family," said Finkbiner.

With more than 2,200 students and programs that include dental care and family meals, Finkbiner says it only makes sense to include a mental health curriculum.

"We’re going to be responsible to ensure that their education is being taken care of as well as their social and emotional health," said Finkbiner.

The program is brand new and is still being developed, but Finkbiner says this brings a new wave of hope for students to learn how to process life's challenges and have the mental tools to handle them.

"I think it's a win-win for all of us because it will allow our students to grow into the leaders of tomorrow and that’s our job," said Finkbiner.