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Middle Division focuses on student mental health during annual Wellness Wednesday

WORKING ON WELLNESS: Students participate in Wellness Wednesday activities.

WORKING ON WELLNESS: Students participate in Wellness Wednesday activities.

WORKING ON WELLNESS: Students participate in Wellness Wednesday activities.

Tenzin Sherpa

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MD students participated in activities as part of Wellness Wednesday this past week. This year, some of the main activities that the students were able to perform were sleep activities, which included watching a video on sleep, drinking nutritious smoothies, writing letters of hope, and making their own buttons.

This year, one of the themes is the importance of sleep, Middle and Upper Division School Nurse Patricia D’Avanzo said. “We formulate activities that go with the title, so students will be working with their hands to make lavender sachets… we are going to have a healthy smoothie station, and somebody from the cafeteria will tell the students about the ingredients in the smoothie,” she said.
The school purchased a button maker so that the students could make buttons that have to do with positive aspects of themselves, D’Avanzo said.

Every 10 to 12 years, D’Avanzo has been asked to plan a Wellness Wednesday, she said. “We do a different core value every year… so one time it might be taking care of your eyes… another one might be the importance of sleep, and some years it matches with an assembly,” Head of Middle Division Robin Ingram said. This is the first of two Wellness Wednesdays this spring, Ingram said.
We don’t want to overdo too many weekly events, Ingram said. “This has been a formula that started long before the weeks, and we like it because it’s simple,” she said. All the activities offered through Wellness Week are easy and effective ways for students to practice self-care and maintain a healthy lifestyle so that they can succeed in their day to day lives, Elliot Weinstein, fellow at the Center for Community Values and Actions said.

Weinstein led the station where students could make lavender pouches to facilitate sleep. “I was asked by Dr. Nichols and Ms. D’Avanzo to assist with Wellness Wednesday because of my background in public health,” he said.

Outside of Wellness Wednesday, D’Avanzo always encourages students to drink plenty of fluids during the day, she said. “Many times, I see students complaining about dizziness because they do not drink enough fluids.” Teachers also encourage self-care and respect towards classmates throughout the year, she said.

The nurse, life skills, and guidance all think of things that kids might be concerned about, she said. Ingram said she thinks that topics that kids might be concerned about are getting enough sleep, good nutrition, reducing anxiety, taking time to have fun, and getting plenty of exercise.

The idea of Wellness Wednesday is to promote different ideas for kids to be self-aware about, Ingram said. “We do not have a health program, except what they do in PE, so it also supplements things that aren’t happening in the PE health program.”

Weinstein thought that at first, the kids seemed to be suspicious of lavender’s effect on sleep, but after watching the TedEd talk and actually making the lavender pouches, they were totally on board.

“Wellness Wednesday teaches me how to take care of myself and how treat myself well,” Melissa Migdon (6) said.

“I think that all the activities include me because, everybody can improve,” Sam Siegel (7) said.

Siegel thought that Wellness Wednesday was important because it makes middle schoolers step back and give them a new perspective, he said. “It really makes them think what they can do to improve their life, whether its sleeping more, spending less time watching TV, and doing homework earlier,” he said.

While self-care and a healthy lifestyle are important in everyone’s life, they are particularly important for students because of all the stress kids face from school, extra-curricular, and social life.
Siegel went to most of the workshops available at the event, he said. “I think the workshops paved the way to achieving their goal, but I think there is always more that they can do.” He thought that there could be more activities at the stations, and that they could have branched out more, he said.

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Middle Division focuses on student mental health during annual Wellness Wednesday