Cottonwood High breaks ground for teen wellness center

Jun 1, 2023, 10:55 PM | Updated: Jun 2, 2023, 7:19 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Cottonwood High School broke ground on a new teen wellness center on Thursday. It’s the first of its kind for the Granite School District. The wellness center was funded by the Granite School District and will be open by the time school starts in the fall. It will include a safe space for teens to shower, do laundry, study, receive food and connect with mental health resources and find housing.

Principal Michael Douglas says the new center will be a safe space for teens to shower, do laundry, study, and receive food – like this one at Hillcrest High School in the Canyons School District.
It will also be a space where students can connect with mental health resources and housing.

“You can’t learn if you’re worried about where you’re going to sleep, where you might shower, or what you’re going to wear tomorrow,” Douglas said.

Cottonwood High School’s student population has over 50 countries and 42 languages represented and like many schools in Utah, Cottonwood High has seen an increase in its homeless student population – last year 80 students were classified as homeless. That’s one reason Robyn Ivins started the Colts’ food pantry six years ago.

“For every kid that walks through that door it normalizes it and makes it safe for the next kid who is wondering where their next meal or shower is going to come from,” Ivins said.

The Cottonwood High School Food Pantry opened in 2017 with four students using it. In 2023 they had 120-150 students using it twice a week.

Building the wellness center will cost over $500,000, and funding will be provided by donors and the Granite School District. For students, it’s investing in their future.

“It tells me that there are people that care, that are here for students, that they want to help them succeed,” said Cottonwood High School Student Body Officer Citlaly Ramirez. “Even if it’s just basic laundry or study room. It shows a lot.”

A recent legislative allocation gave $15 million toward teen wellness centers at high schools in Utah, but that money wasn’t available at the time the school district made the decision to build the center. However, the Granite School District superintendent said it would look into if retroactively applying that funding is possible.

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Cottonwood High breaks ground for teen wellness center