Zen Den provides a calming space for Appleton East High School students

Thursday, October 24, 2019

ZendenpicZen Den rendering courtesy of Miron Construction Co., Inc.

Contributor: Mary Rhode, Vice President Marketing & Communications, United Way Fox Cities

Have you ever yearned for a special space to take a break from the stresses of everyday life? The Zen Den gives students at Appleton East High School a place to take a mental, physical or emotional break during the school day. School counselors are close by for students who may need someone to talk to or for additional support.
Highlights of the Zen Den include:

  • A “living” wall that provides privacy and natural decoration  
  • Soft-cushioned seating area for students, parents, and guests
  • New flooring with a more residential look as well a large, soft rug
  • Freshly painted pale blue walls
  • Projected calming images and soft music
  • Provision of mindful coloring books and games

A special art focal point in the Zen Den is a Sources of Strength wall graphic. Sources of Strength is a national youth suicide prevention project designed to harness the power of peer support to prevent suicide by increasing help-seeking behaviors and promoting connections.
Over the past year, over 1,049 counselor visits were documented at Appleton East High School, which has an approximate enrollment of 1,500. The school stepped forward to partner with Leadership Fox Cities, a program of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, after expressing the need for a space inside of their school. A small group from the 2018/2019 Leadership Fox Cities class were motivated to focus on student mental health issues after learning the 2016 LIFE Study* showed that 12% of high school students in the Fox Cities region have attempted suicide. 
The newly open Zen Den had an approximate cost of $80,000, with $60,000 being in-kind donations. Local contractors/organizations that supported the project include: Miron Construction Co., Inc.HJ Martin and Son, Inc.Suburban Electrical Engineers/Contractors, Inc.Appleton Lathing CorporationOmni Glass & PaintDischer Millwork, and ISG.

*United Way Fox Cities along with the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce partnered to create the Leading Indicators for Excellence (LIFE) Study. This study provides a data-focused overview of the quality of life in the Fox Cities area and offers four priorities for community action. The data points are updated periodically and are designed to spark data-driven conversations within all areas of the community, leading to action and transformative change.

Some blog content provided by: Miron Construction Co., Inc.