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Almonte, Ont. students create textile stickers to cope with stress and anxiety

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A class of Grade 5 and 6 students at R. Tait McKenzie Public School in Almonte, Ont. have found something that sticks with their latest class project.

At the beginning of the school year, teacher Laura Costello noticed some of her students were having issues handling their stress and anxiety.

"I think since Covid, with the online learning and kids not hanging out with other kids, going to other birthday parties, I think they just have missed out on some social interaction," she tells CTV News.

"So when they did come back (to school), they didn't know how to hang out with each other and how to manage friendships."

That's when Costello decided to start a class project tackling those challenges that many students aged 11 and 12 face.

Her class crafted textile stickers, creating five different designs with unique pictures, phrases, and textures.

"It helps kids feel more grounded," she says.

"So they can feel the texture of the design and trace out the [shape] with their finger. And my hope is that is that it will make them feel more grounded."

Some of the stickers feature phrases like "You Need Some Space" with images of outer space, or a tropical paradise accompanied with "just breathe".

"I personally love looking at the stars," says student Olivia Holmes, who created the space sticker. "It was just a really great inspiration for this."

"A lot of people actually have them on their water bottles, their phone cases," says Grade 6 student McKinley Duchene. "They've been using them and it's helping them calm down."

The class became so invested in the project that they decided to pitch the stickers to local Almonte businesses for retail. Seven shops in downtown Almonte liked the idea and will begin selling the stickers starting Wednesday.

"I just think if you get a group of youth that are going to be so engaged in a project like that, we don't have a choice but to support them," said Bob Graff, owner of Baker Bob, which is one of the seven locations.

The stickers will retail for $1 each with proceeds going to the Mississippi Mills Youth Centre. They can be purchased at JB Arts, Mill Street Books, Cheerfully Made, Ottawa Valley Coffee, Baker Bob, Bay and Balm, and Village Café in Ottawa.

The project incorporated lessons in math, graphic design, and business. And while the school year is set to wrap up, the students say they've learned more than just what's inside their textbooks.

"We're getting work done but we're also learning about stress and anxiety," says Grade 5 student Gabriella Riera.

"Even if you're super smart, but you have no idea how to control your emotions, then you probably won't do as well later on."

"It's important for kids to understand how their brain works and understand what they're feeling," says Costello, "and all feelings are normal."

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