JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– When word started to circulate that there had been another shooting at a Colorado school, the survivors and alumni of Columbine High School started asking what they could do to help the community. Kendrick Castillo was shot and killed at STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7. Eight other students were injured.
“I wish there wasn’t a reason they needed Columbine survivors to step into that space but I’m very grateful that the STEM community saw just that we could be a help, we could be a resource,” said Crystal Woodman Miller.
Woodman Miller was inside the library at Columbine in 1999. She’s spent decades spreading her message of hope and healing.
She started working with a teacher from STEM School Highlands Ranch to create calm down boxes to help students next school year.
“The idea behind these boxes is so that students, if they are feeling any of these emotions due to trauma they can step away from class for just a few moments from whatever it is that they’re studying and they can go refocus,” said Woodman Miller. “From sensory therapy toys, things you can squish or pull or just hold, that give you something else to focus on other than the fear, the anxiety, the confusion.”
She’s started an Amazon wish list. Hoping to fill calm down boxes with dozens of items for each of the 90 classrooms at the school.
“Studies show that if you’re able to kind of focus on something a detail, it takes your mind off the emotion or the sensation. This is only supposed to take a couple of minutes at most. Because the idea is not t to detract from what they’re doing at school, it’s really to help them do their studies better,” Woodman Miller said.
She’s working with other survivors of columbine like Karissa Rund who has been on her own journey coming back to help people.
“This is just something that is so practical and so easy and it doesn’t take much time. They can just excuse themselves. They can go work through the box for a few minutes. It’s this safe space where they’re reminded, ‘Okay the danger has passed. I’m okay, nothing is happening,’ it’s just that reassurance that everything is okay,” Woodman Miller said. “Healing will come. We’re just giving you small tools to help on your road to get there.”