“Who has ever had a cucumber mask?” School social worker Tanja Rock does not have to wait long for an answer. The firsts all say no. The seven kneel on the floor of the newly renovated room at Chillix on comfortable mats with relaxing music in the background.
Slices of cucumber are distributed, a spoonful of cottage cheese is smeared on the cheeks. “The quark is good for your skin,” Rock explains to the children, “lie down now, close your eyes, think of something good and try to enjoy the silence.” The kids are incredibly involved. “Feels cold,” says Maximilian, “but also a little cool.” Within a few minutes, everyone is lying on their backs and it gradually becomes quiet.
Today is wellness day for the first classes. The school social worker, together with pedagogical assistant Melis Hörmann, got the idea in the spring. “Because the children suffered a lot during the Corona period, we wanted to offer them some relaxation,” says Hörmann. All of this should happen outside of school.
Face masks are only a part
A place for this was quickly found at Chillix, the children and youth center in the Catholic parish of St. Martin am Marienplatz, and pastor Benjamin Sigg and youth officer Dennis Hemer were immediately convinced. “We’re always happy to network with other organizations, now it’s just the schools,” says Hemer, “and in the morning the premises are empty anyway.”
For Sigg, it is clear: “Church youth work is more than worship, and if the children still know in two years’ time that they have had a positive experience with the church, then it is good.”
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The face masks upstairs are just part of this school morning. In other rooms, dream catchers are made with macrame, who are massaged or varnished fingernails, people paint or read meditation stories aloud.
Training in perception, such as walking outside on a large rope with your eyes closed, is also part of it, as is breakfast and lunch together. Or a hand scrub.
Head massage is here
But the hit is the main massage. “It’s amazing what’s going on there,” says Tanja Rock, “we’re even surprised, especially boys can really let go.” Students can relax in small groups. “And also outside of school, in other contexts, to be together,” as first-class teacher Anna Broger puts it.
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“Laughing together, experiencing something that strengthens the class community tremendously.” And last but not least, the relationship between teacher and student. “We’re even surprised at how many kids show up here.”
These lessons are also extremely important for teachers. “Here is mask-free time and the children can get to know each other properly – without masks.” The offer lasts for several weeks because all classes would like a ride. Chillix is reserved for this every Wednesday.
First grade students are excited
“So far, everyone has thought it’s great,” they say. In the long run, such campaigns will be extended to other schools or organizations working with children and young people. At least Sigg and Hemer are open to everything, including other ideas and projects.
“Orientation days are planned with the high school,” says Sigg, referring to the encouragement project that promotes youth work and strengthens it locally, “a lot can still happen.” In any case, the 1st graders are excited about the wellness day. “It would be great if it was every week,” says Selim, who especially liked the pure wellness offerings – “the one with the cucumber and the one with the head” he liked best.