By GUADALUPE ENRIQUEZ
School can be a difficult time in a student’s life and the stress of homework and tests can discourage them from making an effort in school or, in the most extreme cases, from even showing up.
Manteca High’s Leadership class has organized its second annual Wellness Week, so students can unwind during their lunches with interactive activities. Wellness Week begins Monday, March 20, and will run through Friday, March 24.
Wellness Week is best characterized as the ideal chance for kids who are experiencing mental difficulties to reach out. Raising mental health awareness and eliminating stigma are its only goals, and students are taught that asking for help is perfectly acceptable.
Each day of the week corresponds to a lunchtime activity.
Monday’s event will consist of a game of Just Dance in the ATF, Manteca High’s inddor workout facility. Tuesday will include stress ball making and the handing out of snacks in the Dawson Center. Wednesday will give every student the opportunity to pet and play with a small animal. Thursday consists of painting kindness rocks and passing them along, and Friday’s event will consist of posting notes of positivity for everyone to be inspired by.
“Choosing a set of activities that fit everyone’s wants and likes was most important to me,” Espinoza said. “I hope during each activity that I am able to teach students that it is okay to make time for themselves as well as find new ways to manage stress in their daily lives.
“I hope each day brings stress relief and a little bit of fun, especially nearing the last few months of the academic year.”
The students tasked with organizing Wellness Week are senior Daizy Espinoza, the event’s creator; Tessa King; Malory Levchenko; Alejandra Valdovinos; Kylie Anderson; Jocelyn Sanchez-Soto; Ashleigh Garlets; Eras Tuddao; Jasmyne Poulsen; and Emily Garcia.
“Often times, especially in homes where teenagers are involved, mental health is overlooked,” Espinoza said. “Getting students the help they need, both mentally and physically … to me, breaking the stigma and promoting mental health equity for students of all ages, ethnicity, and sexuality is beyond important.”
The main goal of this week-long program is to promote students' mental health and encourage self-love, kindness, and love for others.
Manteca High’s Activities Director Stephanie Hjelmstad believes Wellness Week is vital because it places a focus on mental health issues on campus and brings together the students during their lunches to relax and enjoy their time.
“Students deserve the opportunity to participate in low-stress activities that are accessible to all,” Hjelmstad said. “These types are extremely important for our student body because everybody needs a little de-stressing in their lives. We would love for all students to find something within the week to participate in.”
Manteca High’s interim principal Megan Peterson also believes that events such as these should continue to take place and have the students’ mental health as the main focus. She hopes many students participate in these lunch activities.
“The more things we can do to get kids participating in events about wellness the better,” Peterson said. “Without a focus on the importance of managing mental health in society, people with these issues can feel shame and not reach out for the important help they need.”