Brain Heath Retreat Rooms

Brain health Retreat Rooms, launched on January 18, 2022 for students at Dubuque Senior and Hempstead High School thanks to funding sources from Debi and Andy Butler and collaboration with several other local businesses and non-profits.  This has been an in-depth process with discussions starting last spring between the Dubuque Community School District, Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools, and Debi and Andy Butler and we look forward to the impact these rooms have on our staff and students.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80% of U.S. students report feeling stressed sometimes or often, while 34% felt depression. A recent article in Edweek states, 35% of 14 to 18 year-olds experience a brain health crisis each year. With these statistics on the rise, the creation of a center for students to use when they are experiencing stress is a dire need.  Often the school is the first tier resource to give students support and our schools need to be ready.

Schools are on the front lines of children’s brain health. Families and students often first turn to school staff for wellness support, and at the same time, students must be able to process stress and trauma so they can be focused and ready to learn in the classroom. 

That’s why the Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools is working with the Dubuque Community School District (DCSD), to create and staff designated areas for brain health wellness where students can process difficult emotions during the school day. The goal is to give students skills to first cope and then be responsible, independent learners.

The idea for the rooms came from Debi and Andy Butler, who lead the nonprofit Brain Health Now. They worked with the Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools, to fund and build the rooms at Hempstead and Dubuque Senior high schools.

Resources and funding were also provided by Lerdahl, Gigantic, 100 Women Who Care, Project Rooted, and Mindful Minutes for Schools. The long range goal is secure additional funding so Brain health Retreat Rooms could be expanded if other buildings in the district see the need.

“Many students in our community go to school each day and try to cope with stressors and traumas in their lives while learning,” Debi Butler says. “Other districts that have created these types of rooms have seen the benefits: Students who use them are able to decompress and return to the classroom focused on their schoolwork.”