Clatsop Kids Go shows rewards in second year


By Sue Cody


As 21 fourth and fifth graders gather at Warrenton Grade School, facilitator Sarah Brown asks, “What is mindfulness?” 

 “Being respectful of others,” “Being calm,” “Kindness,” are some of the answers.

“Yes,” says Brown. “Kindness is the word for today. Being mindful means to be in the moment and paying attention on purpose.” A discussion ensues on ways to be mindful, such as listening when others talk, helping each other and picking up friends. This is part of the second year of Clatsop Kids Go, created by The Way to Wellville.

About the program

Clatsop Kids Go was created for third, fourth and fifth graders to create positive behaviors around nutrition, physical health and emotional well-being. The program serves Seaside, Gearhart, Astoria, Warrenton and Knappa elementary schools. Last year it served 250 children. This year, 350 students will participate in the program

“The kids get so excited,” says Jackie Welborn, Warrenton’s school nurse. “Four teachers asked me when the program starts.”

Wellborn says she has seen great behavioral and self-esteem changes in kids who participated in Clatsop Kids Go. They love the journaling, the yoga. Many kids want to do it again. Those who had difficulty in the first session are now the leaders who enjoy helping the instructors.

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While learning about the importance of nutrition and exercise, students keep a journal, tracking their activities. At the beginning of each session, the kids take a survey, created with the assistance of Abbie Huddleston who is a pediatric medical student at Oregon Health Sciences University. A follow-up will be given at the end of the session.

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“There are different indicators we can track,” says Brown. “We are in the process of evaluating surveys from Seaside (winter session) and looking at the curriculum.”

The biggest change from last year is an updated curriculum, Brown says. She re-evaluated goals with program facilitators Alix Richardson and Jessica Morrow.

Brown says she learned more about trauma-informed care from the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization and The Way to Wellville (

Evaluation led to a more structured plan: preparing more activities for nutrition and games, having a media-smart curriculum and having backup activities if things move too quickly.


After the lesson on mindfulness, the kids play some running games, then sit down to test their descriptive and sensory skills with a sniff test. Facilitators take around a covered cup with something inside. In groups of three, the students are to describe the item, without naming it.

“Does it smell sweet or sour?” Brown asks.

Then she asks, “What does it remind you of? The kitchen? Christmas? Something clean?” The students seem to really enjoy the challenge. Item No. 3 is described by kids as “horrible, strong, icky, dirty.” The item is dog food. For cinnamon, they say sweet and spicy. It reminds them of toast and Christmas. They all guess it is cinnamon.


In the fall, students at Gearhart planted tulip bulbs and now enjoy the products of their effort. Vegetables will again be planted at area schools in garden beds built last year.

Some of the activities have small rewards, such as pencils, figurines, etc. If a student completes and turns in seven of the 12 weekly activity sheets, they receive an activity tracker, such as a Fitbit or pedometer. The kids learn techniques to calm themselves down. Brown says one student came up to her and said, “I’m having a rough day.” She was surprised he felt like sharing his feelings after only one day of Clatsop Kids Go.

“The social-emotional aspect is huge,” says nurse Welborn. Having more after-school projects at Warrenton is positive, especially ones where kids learn social skills and work together.”

 “It is so rewarding because something good comes out of the program. Kids are learning there are some things they can have control over,” says Brown.