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Room at Roosevelt promotes self-care, emotional well-being for students

Posted on 11 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Roosevelt High School students Samiyah Farah (left) and Rahma Abdi (right), and graduate Bisharo Abdi (center) in the RestART Room. The three friends agreed that, “It doesn’t matter what you’re going through, self-care matters.”(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Room #215 doesn’t look like any other classroom at Roosevelt High School. Instead of desks and chairs, there are a few tables piled high with drawing paper, magic markers, and coloring books. There are couches for relaxing on, overstuffed pillows, books about self care – and it’s quiet.
The classroom been used in different ways over the years, but it had been left unstaffed and underutilized until recently.
Now called the RestART Room, this is a place where students can come when they need to take a break from class, from the stress of applying for college, or from the pressure of life at home.
Lindsay Walz, who jump-started the idea with a group of students last year, said, “We provide a safe space at school to access creative mindfulness practices and holistic healing supports – so students can get back to the business of learning.”
The RestART Room is a natural extension of the non-profit healing and art studio Walz started in 2013, called Courageous heARTS.” The non-profit is located nearby at 2235 E. 38th St. Its mission is to illuminate youth as leaders, while inspiring creativity, courage, and collaboration within the community.
Walz explained, “Last year, students and staff from the Health Careers Program at Roosevelt reached out to explore opportunities to volunteer at Courageous heARTS. We thought it was a natural fit to bring our efforts to Roosevelt with the help of their student leaders.”
“The timing was right. In the 20 years I’ve been working with young people, it seems like life keeps getting harder for them. They tell me they’re bombarded with typical questions about their future, but expectations for getting into college – and the possibility of incurring life-long debt – have made the stress worse.”
“There’s all of that, and then there’s the stuff of the world: the climate crisis, immigration, racism, homophobia. The list is long and it’s on a constant loop in their newsfeeds. That’s where the RestART Room comes in.”
Last year, a Roosevelt senior, Bisharo Abdi, and a group of friends worked closely with Walz to bring the RestART Room to life. Abdi said, “I was glad to have the RestART Room because managing my coursework and all the work of applying to colleges became overwhelming. I learned some techniques for de-stressing. I learned it was okay to relax, and to show my feelings, even if they weren’t positive.”
Abdi has taken those skills with her to Augsburg College, where she is a freshman majoring in biology and youth studies. In addition to going to college, Abdi is also working as an apprentice at Courageous heARTS. She said, “There have been many benefits for me in learning to live more mindfully. One of the biggest benefits is that I’ve finally overcome my shyness. When I was in high school, it was very hard for me to speak up in class. Now at Courageous heARTS, I regularly give tours to the public – and I enjoy it.”

Lindsay Walz, Courageous heARTS founder and executive director, works in creative partnership to support the RestART Room. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Want to get involved?
Walz surveyed the RestART Room, which has no shortage of art supplies. She said, “We could use more materials geared toward mindfulness and healing. If anyone has a SAD light box they’re not using, or an essential oil diffuser, these are things we’d like to try. Also books about mindfulness or meditation, or monetary donations to be used toward increasing staff. We’re lucky to be in a community that supports our mission that art is transformative, and has the power to support individual and collective healing.”
Learn more about volunteer and donation opportunities at


Senior Samiya Farah said, “One of the things I’ve learned by coming here is to practice gratitude. I focus on at least one thing every day that I’m grateful for. I’m thinking about making a gratitude jar. Just writing something simple on a piece of paper every day, and enjoying watching the jar fill up.”