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Academy of Notre Dame launches ND CARES student well-being program

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Notre Dame Academy
Notre Dame Academy Courtesy of Notre Dame Academy de Namur

Notre Dame is leading the way in elevating the mental health of girls and young women.

The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur has launched a comprehensive, school-wide initiative focused on the well-being, social-emotional growth, and mental health of every student. Through ND CARES: Notre Dame is providing girls with the skills and resources to be well and to recognize when their classmates and friends show signs of stress, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

ND CARES kicked off in spring 2022 with a Parent Education Night featuring Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Co-Founder and Director of Programs at Center for Parent and Teen Communication. In his talk, “Promoting Resilience, Addressing Perfection,” Dr. Ginsburg discussed how to build on the strength of teenagers by fostering their internal resilience, sharing practical approaches for parents to use in preparing children and teens to thrive. 

(From left) Head of School Dr. Laura M. Hotchkiss, Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, and Mrs. Stephanie Giampietro, ND Parents’ Association Executive Board. Courtesy of Notre Dame Academy de Namur

In addition, Notre Dame has partnered with the JED Foundation (JED) and the Social Institute (TSI) to conduct needs assessments and help develop strategic plans for programming in the Upper and Middle Schools, respectively. JED is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide in teens and young adults, providing them with the skills and support they need to thrive and strengthening their emotional health by giving them the tools needed to develop health-seeking behaviors. Notre Dame will be the first non-collegiate institution in Pennsylvania to partner with the JED Foundation, with introductory work beginning in August 2022. The Social Institute (TSI) provides an online learning platform that “empowers students to navigate their social world — social media and technology — to fuel their health, happiness, and future success.” TSI inspires students to make positive choices by reinforcing character traits like empathy and teamwork. 

As the mental health needs of students continue to evolve, Notre Dame has expanded the department of Student Support Services, including hiring a Director of Student Experience and Well-Being. This new member of the Notre Dame administration, reporting to the Middle and Upper School Division Directors, will be responsible for creating a safe, supportive school climate, instituting a plan to enhance and sustain student well-being, and fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging for all. In addition, a dedicated Middle School Counselor will join the department in fall 2022 to provide more access, programming, and support both in the academic and mental health realm.

Dr. Laura Hotchkiss, Notre Dame Head of School, shares, “Through this focus on well-being, our girls will thrive in their personal development, engage in the community, and live a life of purpose while at Notre Dame and ‘beyond the gates.’”

Courtesy of Notre Dame Academy de Namur