BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – As of Monday, November 28, the Louisiana Center for Health Equity (LCHE) has completed phase one of a strategy designed to address certain behavioral issues among East Baton Rouge (EBR) Parish’s students.

According to LCHE, a number of students are acting out in the classroom. This is why the nonprofit developed a strategy that aims to decrease student violence, suspension, and reduce the number of children sent to alternative schools.

The plan’s initial phase involved beautifying area schools in hopes of fostering a sense of school spirit and pride within the students who attend such institutions.

Alma Stewart, the President & Founder of LCHE told BRProud’s Jessica Knox, “The COVID 19 pandemic has really taken a toll on the emotional and mental health of our young people. And so part of it (LCHE’s initiative) is to support them in ways that we may not have thought of supporting them.”

Stewart believes the first way to achieve this is by learning what each school needs.

At Northdale Superintendent Academy, for example, it was determined that a change of scenery was needed.

Stewart said, “Beautifying the school, making the school look more esthetically pleasing for the students and the staff. It really makes a difference.”

So, community members united, using their holiday break to touch up the campus.

Dawn Collins, President of the EBR School Board, said that having nicer classrooms will encourage the students to hit the books.

Collins expressed appreciation for the community’s assistance, acknowledging that this form of social and emotional support would contribute to her student’s wellbeing.

She said, “You have to lay the foundation of human connection.”

This is precisely what LCHE is attempting to achieve by partnering with locals to beautify schools like Northdale Superintendent Academy.

Knox spoke with a student named Tevin Pitts who said the community’s investment in his school is motivating.

Pitts said, “It made me feel like they’re confident about us.”

LCHE’s work in behalf of EBR’s students has only just begun and Stewart said phase two will start immediately.

This second phase involves identifying and assisting students who’ve experienced trauma. The assistance will be provided as schools are supplied with additional resources that meet their mental and emotional needs.

Click here for additional information on LCHE.