Durham School Services Donates Bus for Mobile Mental Health “Chill Room”

Durham School Services (DSS), a leader in student transportation, has donated a school bus to the West Jefferson Hills (WJH) School District in Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania, to renovate into a mobile “Chill Room/Makerspace” for its students. The Chill Room will allow students to seek innovative ways to help manage stress, anxiety, and focus on mental health. The donated bus will be renovated and designed into the mobile Chill Room with help from Thomas Jefferson High School’s technical education and graphic design students. It is slated to be completed during the 2023-2024 school year.

The mobile “Chill Room” is an expansion of Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Chill Project, a program for schools that “uses mindfulness-based exercises to equip students, teachers, and parents with a common language and universal skills to identify, discuss, and react positively to stress.” Through the Chill Project, participants have access to services such as counseling, support groups, school-based outpatient services, and more.

“We are excited for this unique opportunity to create a mobile ‘Chill Room/Makerspace’ for our elementary school students and community, and thank Durham School Services for their extraordinary donation,” said Dr. Janet Sardon, WJH School District superintendent. “This bus will positively impact our students since it will provide them with a more accessible means to seek out support. The bus also is a great opportunity for Thomas Jefferson students to construct a welcoming and functional interior space and design a colorful and creative interior and exterior. We are fortunate to have a compassionate and supportive partner like Durham School Services who possesses such a strong commitment to the well-being of its students and community.”

The donation to the West Jefferson Hills School District was made as part of Durham School Services’ company-wide Partners Beyond the Bus program, a continuous effort to serve students’ growing, diverse needs and increase the positive impact we make on their lives beyond school and their communities. These bus donations also help to repurpose retired, non-electric vehicles from DSS’ fleets, which further contributes to DSS’ transition to alternative fuel-powered and zero-emission buses. Durham School Services plans on transitioning to an all zero-emission fleet by 2035.

“We look forward to the transformation of the bus into an innovative and mobile space for WJH students,” said Karen Kotar, West Jefferson Area general manager. “We are delighted that this donation will give the students of the West Jefferson Hills School District an additional opportunity to receive the support they need when they are stressed or going through a difficult time. The Chill Project is an admirable endeavor, and we are proud to contribute to the project through our bus donation. We are eager to see how the students transform the bus and the difference it will make in the lives of the students and community.”