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FCHS JROTC students participate in resiliency training

by Mari-Alice Jasper, Courier staff

The Fort Campbell Courier
Fort Campbell | February 2, 2017

With brightly colored sticky notes stuck to their fingers, about a dozen students from Fort Campbell High School scurried around the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps classroom Tuesday morning during a resiliency training course.

The students were instructed to adhere their sticky notes to numerous posters hung on the walls of the classroom that represented more than 20 character strengths. By doing so, the students were able to identify what they felt to be their strongest characteristics.

Their instructor, Mitch Weaver, master resilience trainer performance expert from Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, conducted this exercise to help the students identify their strengths.

“A lot of the time, people just want to focus on the negative. They don’t want to address what they are already good at,” he told the class. “But it is important to remember your strengths, because that is how you will be most successful.”

Students in Fort Campbell High School’s JROTC Leadership Education and Training 1 course have been participating in resiliency training for the past three years. Each year includes about 20 weekly sessions.

“Every year it’s all new students for us,” Weaver said. “None of the kids get a repeat of the course, because they will either move out of JROTC or move up to LET 2.”

This training is comparable to the master resiliency training these students’ parents complete while serving in the Army, Weaver said.

“The skills have the same names,” he said. “However, we do change it a little bit to make it a little more applicable to the teenage years. Examples that we typically use with Soldiers are not going to be relevant to the kids in ninth through 12th grade. So it’s definitely a program tailored to their needs, but it’s the same skills broken down a little bit differently.”

As part of their training, the students also learn about performance enhancement skills, which is more along the lines of sports psychology.

“We focus on resilience and ways to allow these kids to develop skills that help them grow and thrive despite the many challenges they face, whether it’s a parent deploying or returning to the Family,” Weaver said. “Some of these skills are related to performance such as taking tests or playing sports. This skills allow them to maintain focus and control their energy.” One portion of the class is dedicated to energy management. During this segment, the students learn the importance of sleep and the effect it has, mentally and physically.

“We discuss different strategies to help them fall asleep quicker, stay asleep longer and lots of things like that,” he said.

Deanna Coleman, freshman, said by adjusting her sleep schedule she has already seen an improvement in her lifestyle.

“I just kept feeling so stressed out and in resiliency training one week, [Weaver] suggested I try getting more sleep,” she said. “Since then I’ve been feeling a lot better. A lot less tense.”

Being a part of the class has given Deanna an opportunity to express her thoughts and feelings to her classmates in a safe space.

“It’s been a pretty good class to have, because in JROTC we do leadership and everything else, but we don’t get to address our feelings about what we do and how that affects us,” she said. “Resiliency training has been a really good way to bring that out into the light.”

When Deanna first started the course she told her father about it.

“I told him it felt really weird to do because it’s something I’d never done before,” she said. “I didn’t want to tell people about my feelings. It seemed too personal. Since then I’ve opened up to it though, and I feel like it’s been really healthy. I don’t feel like I’m so alone when I’m in resiliency training.”

Deanna’s father told her he also had to complete the resiliency training.

“He said when he went through it he wasn’t really into it, but I am so into this class,” she said. “I love participating and I love learning more about myself.”

The resiliency training classes sometimes become a Family bonding experience, Weaver said.

“These kids can use these skills just as well as their parents can,” he said. “In fact, in some cases we see that they take the skills home and the next time the class meets the students will share with the class an experience where they shared the skills with their parent at home. The parents really enjoy it.”

The push for this training for the high school students stems from the likelihood that children of military Families will join the military later in their life, Weaver said.

“A lot of the time, kids in Army Families tend to join the military in some fashion,” he said. “So not only will these skills help them where they are at now in their lives, but the sooner they get these skills, the more likely they will be able to apply them sooner.”

However, resiliency training can be beneficial to all students, regardless of their future plans.

“When they do join the military, go to college or go out into the world, they will be more equipped to deal with the many different adversities they will face,” Weaver said. “These skills can be used by anyone.”

Although Weaver has trained people at all life stages, he said training high school students has been the most interesting.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said, chuckling to himself. “It’s definitely different than training their parents, the Soldiers, because they are at different stages in their life. [High school students] tend to have a lot of energy and receive the concepts. In some cases, they are more open-minded to the ideas I bring in than the Soldier population is.”

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