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Foutty and HRE school counselor Kate Young lead Fidget Club
Students Build a Sense of Belonging with Fidget Club

March 09, 2020

“When you walk in, notice how the room feels as you take a seat.” These are the first words that students hear as they enter Fidget Club at Hoosier Road Elementary. The club, which meets every Wednesday during school, focuses on building mindfulness and self-management in elementary and intermediate students.

Jeff Foutty, the school psychologist at Hoosier Road Elementary and Riverside Intermediate, initiated Fidget Club in 2017. There are currently three Fidget Clubs – two at HRE and one at RSI. This year, placement in the club was determined on students’ self-evaluation of their emotional wellbeing from specific questions on the 2019 Panorama Sense of Belonging survey. “Fidget Club represents a building-wide initiative for positive attention towards students that often receive very little,” says Foutty. “There are kids that need these kinds of experiences.”

Students in Fidget Club meet twice a day. During the morning meeting, they practice short meditations and engage in conversation to build relationships, encouraging skills such as politeness, eye contact, and self-expression. Students also collaborate and discuss their ideas for developing their school’s Fidget Wall.

The Fidget Wall, created by Foutty and a group of students two years ago, is a location at the school where students have access to sensory items such as fidget spinners, magnets, and unique contraptions. Foutty and the students recognized a need for emotional regulation in students coinciding with the often-misused personal fidget items. The Fidget Wall provides a space for students to correctly utilize these tools while they are attached to the wall. When Fidget Club meets a second time in the afternoon, students design and build their ideas for the wall. With the assistance of Foutty and the school counselor, these students learn skills to safely operate heavy machinery and build the wooden structures themselves.

Fidget Club and its Fidget Wall offer students a chance to engage in specialized learning that builds relationships. An outdoor sensory area at HRE proves the growing impact of Fidget Club within the schools, but Foutty also plans to extend it throughout the school district. Foutty says the practice of implementing student sensory areas not only benefits students at the school, but enables those in Fidget Club to build problem-solving skills, self-esteem, and a sense of belonging at school.
 
 
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