Improving Heart Health through Emotional Wellness
What Does Emotional Wellness Have to do With Heart Health?
Research clearly shows a strong link between emotional health and heart health.
The link between the two can best be described through the concept of toxic stress. Toxic stress describes instances where children experience strong, frequent adversity without adequate support. This can come from poverty, exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, and other similar situations.
The effects of toxic stress are not just instant but can last a lifetime. Exposure to toxic stress has been shown to alter the anatomy and chemistry of children’s brains. This can lead to the development of anxiety, mood disorders, and chronic heart conditions such as heart disease and cancer. In fact, research has demonstrated that children who experience toxic stress early in life are predisposed to long term health effects that may not manifest until they are adults.
Understanding how this happens involves understanding how our brains function. The human brain contains over 100 billion neurons, which begin forming connections even before birth. The architecture formed by these connections is critical for everything we do.
Early in life, the brain is fairly elastic. It takes very little effort to create massive changes in its architecture. However, later in life, that architecture is fairly well-established. The brain can still change but to a much lower degree, and any changes require extensive effort and experiences. In other words, toxic stress in children is so devastating because it has a significant ability to break down brain architecture at a critical time.
How Does Clymb Address This Issue?
Clymb provides children with evidence-based, CASEL-aligned socio-emotional learning resources and tools. CASEL’s framework seeks to develop self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, healthy decision-making, and skills for healthy relationships.
Clymb is tailored to each child’s specific needs based upon an evidence-based competency assessment. Clymb utilizes a variety of learning modalities to help teach various facets of emotional wellness in an engaging manner.
“The effects of toxic stress are not just instant but can last a lifetime. Exposure to toxic stress has been shown to alter the anatomy and chemistry of children’s brains.”
Clymb helps children to develop SEL skills, including learning to recognize, understand, and process their emotions. From mindfulness techniques to methods for healthy decision-making, children become equipped with the tools necessary to respond to incidents of toxic stress in a healthy way. By developing their emotional wellness, children will improve their resilience and reduce the negative effects of toxic stress.
Improved resilience and SEL skills lead to positive outcomes in and out of the classroom including better emotional management and reductions in problems like low self-esteem and bullying. Furthermore, by reducing the impact of toxic stress, children that participate in Clymb would theoretically mitigate their risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses later in life.
What Does Being an AHA Grantee Mean?
Max Gritzuk, portfolio manager of AHA’s Social Impact Fund, noted, “Clymb utilizes technology to empower youth with tools to manage their socio-emotional wellbeing, while generating actionable data for teachers and caretakers. The AHA’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund sees Clymb as a culturally relevant solution that can be scaled to create a positive environment for children across the nation to prosper, with the potential to drive long-term positive health outcomes.”
This support provides important financial investment that is key to further enhancing the reach of Clymb. However, the financial support is not the only benefit that is seen from the AHA’s support. A critical aspect of this partnership is the provision of an IRB research study of the efficacy of Clymb’s software.
As a company that prides itself on an evidence-based approach, continuing to assess the effect of Clymb on student health outcomes is important. This research will not only help to quantify the effect of Clymb participation but also provide important data that can be used to improve the efficiency and efficacy of Clymb’s efforts.
According to the AHA’s Claire Ugo-Ike, “If we do not measure our efforts to support communities, we cannot see the impact we are making on individuals living in these communities. Assessing our inputs and services will not only provide us the opportunity to grow and improve but will also help us see the value of our services.”
The AHA’s support is invaluable in furthering the reach of Clymb and providing important IRB research that will help collect further evidence regarding the efficacy of Clymb’s efforts to promote emotional wellness in children.
The AHA’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund sees Clymb as a culturally relevant solution that can be scaled to create a positive environment for children across the nation to prosper, with the potential to drive long-term positive health outcomes.” -Max Gritzuk, Portfolio Manager of AHA’s Social Impact Fund.
SEL Skills and Emotional Wellness Matter
Ask any teacher and you’ll hear how important development of SEL skills and emotional wellness are in children. Research has shown that students engaging in SEL development programs see improved attitudes, behaviors, and academic achievement.
While an SEL curriculum will benefit all students, it is particularly beneficial for students who experience toxic stress in their lives. Clymb aims to provide a crucial intervention that will enhance resilience and prepare children to diminish the effects of toxic stress.