More art is what we need most | Dr. Nancy L. Weaver | 5 Min Read

As our school communities begin to rebound from the effects of covid and the mitigation efforts, it will be tremendously helpful to create opportunities for students to experience the arts. There is strong evidence that doing more art and focusing on mindfulness can dramatically improve skills for emotional resilience. Make no mistake, these last couple of years have been traumatic — for students and teachers alike. We need to clearly acknowledge these wounds and make changes, even radical changes, to allow for healing. The mental health epidemic demands no less.

Any type of artistic experience can quite literally change the brain though increases in dopamine and serotonin, focused periods of deep work and self-acceptance. Students become better able to handle intense emotions, better able to participate in the life of the school and become academically more successful as their functional IQ increases. These experiences directly help regulate the nervous system, allowing students to be present for learning.

While it’s tempting to start the new year with a focus on content and competencies, building a supportive foundation for emotional learning is critical, particularly after such a long period of being distanced. In fact, the only…

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Nancy Weaver

Dr. Nancy L. Weaver applies communication sciences, analytics and public health principles to promote positive parenting of young children and adolescents. Whether encouraging nurturing relationships between caregivers and kids or working with institutions and health care systems to adopt effective programs, she advances strength-based messages that are easy to understand and are highly relevant to diverse audiences. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Missouri Foundation for Health and other granting agencies and has led to the widespread dissemination of many efficacious programs. Most recently she launched Support Over Silence for KIDS to address public child mistreatment. Weaver is Co-director of the Community Engagement Core of the Center for Innovation in Child Maltreatment Policy, Research and Training at Washington University and was the founding Director of SLU’s REACH Center: Research and Equity in Action for Child Health, a regional initiative that brings together academic and community partners to advance the health of moms, dads, families and children. Weaver frequently consults with health care systems, providers and non-profit agencies to design and evaluate population health initiatives and prevention approaches.