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March 31, 2017
In an academic environment where a multitude of stresses encumber students and faculty, physical and mental health can often be taken for granted. With awareness of well-being often being overshadowed, members of the school community, known as the Health and Wellness Committee, are recognizing the importance of health-awareness. To spread their message, the collaborative group of students, teachers, nurses, guidance and administration created “Health and Wellness Week,” the school week of March 13 to March 17 dedicated to activities that promoted consciousness of well-being.
“Health and Wellness Week was designed to remind all of us of the importance of making healthy decisions and help us decompress a little bit,” Brian Mawson said, who is the head of the committee.
“We had hoped that it would be a way to make students aware that they can control their health and wellness by doing activities,” committee member Christina Connolly said. “There are many different ways to be healthy other than relaxation, meditation, and sleeping such as diet and other activities.”
Health and Fitness teacher and committee member Melissa Arvanigian hoped that the lessons taken from health week would help the school thrive as a community, in the midst of academics.
To enlighten the community about taking a step back and not only focusing on the academics, but also mental health, social health, environmental health, all the different six components of health and how important they are for survival, but to thrive. Health and Wellness Week wasn’t only devised for the students, it was devised for the whole Algonquin community.
Various activities and exercises engaged the school with the health theme of each day: with Monday as “My Cause Monday”, Tuesday as “Take Charge Tuesday”, Wednesday as “Wellness Wednesday”, Thursday as “Thankful Thursday” and Friday as “Healthy Food Friday”. According to Mawson, some activities consisted of special announcements and table setups.
Arvanigian, who was responsible for “My Cause Monday” along with Connolly, emphasized that the activities encouraged the mindfulness part of health and wellness, as well as the physical and nutritional side.
“For ‘My Cause Monday’ the hope was that the different clubs would wear their colors or pins to get awareness out for their cause,” Arvanigian said. “Each of us on the committee had a day and we worked together in partners or pods”.
PSAs were also delivered to classes on “My Cause Monday.”
Students and teachers both emphasize the necessity of addressing mental health in the school environment. For them, gatherings like Health Week serve as time to relax, de-stress and put things into perspective.
“We are one of the top performing academic schools and we pride ourselves on that, but as a society, our mental health is starting to slide and that is due to worrying about the past and future and never unplugging and different things that are happening in the present day,” Arvanigian said. “Our biggest hope was to show people to take a step off that hamster wheel that we are constantly on and think about our mental health, physical health, and all the six components of health.”
Senior Brendan Foley hopes that projects like Health Week initiate more conversations about mental health in the future.
“I hope that we start talking more about student health, specifically mental health,” Foley said. “I hope teachers start changing their course loads, and we start doing more than talking about school start times and other factors that are impacting student mental health.”
Since consciousness of health affects the decisions people make, and consequently, their futures, students and committee members hope that such conversations carry on into the future with designated periods of activities like Health Week.
“We really want to do these things to make the school better emotionally, and taking one week out of everyone’s busy schedules I think would be really great and important to remind ourselves how valuable our health is to us,” Arvanigian said.
“It is often said that the greatest wealth is health, and it really is about recognizing the importance of being healthy,” Mawson said. “Academics are important, but without your health, you aren’t going to have good academics, and that’s really what this whole week is about and going forward we are hoping to have even more activities set