Arcadia Unified Hosts Middle School Wellness Discovery Summit
By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Kylie Ha
Flyer logo for AUSD’s Alive and Aware Discovery Wellness Event
(Courtesy of AUSD’s Wellness Summit website)
Sound mental health makes all of the difference, and the Arcadia Unified School District continues to highlight that. In its most recent efforts, Arcadia Unified’s middle
school counselors and psychologists from Dana, First Avenue, and Foothills Middle Schools and Rancho Learning Center (RLC), along with the support of additional district staff and students, teamed up to prepare a wellness summit exclusively for middle school students.
“We want students to know that they are not alone and that focusing on your mental health and self-care is a strength, not a weakness,” said Arcadia Unified RLC School Counselor Stephanie Perez, who served as the team lead for this event.
During distance learning, added stress from online coursework, new methods of test-taking, and “zoom” fatigue have made mental health a pressing issue among students. School closures have also limited the number of opportunities students have for in-person mental health and wellness outlets. Arcadia Unified’s “Alive and Aware Wellness Discovery Summit” was developed to combat students’ stress and provide proactive strategies for prioritizing wellness.
The summit’s theme “Alive and Aware” is centered on helping students understand healthy habits. According to the Wellness Summit’s website, the goal of this summit is “to help guide you [students] in developing a range of different techniques to learn flexibility of the mind and body.”
Though students may feel overwhelmed under the current circumstances, Perez explained that the main priority behind the summit was to help families and students understand the “connection between overall wellness and academic success” through participation in the wellness summit.
The summit itself saw Arcadia Unified middle-schoolers with a half-day of school solely dedicated to their mental and physical health, as well as overall wellness. Held via a livestreamed YouTube video, edited together by Arcadia High School’s Apache News (APN) team, the interactive program included sessions on gratitude, how to support others, and physical health movements, to name just a few. Many of these segments were guided by Arcadia Unified’s expert counselors and psychologists and also included a segment hosted by Arcadia Unified Board Member Fenton Eng on mindful movement. Another key part of the summit was its decorated guest speakers, which included a special introduction message from Arcadia Unified Superintendent David Vannasdall, encouraging messages from Arcadia Unified teachers, staff, and alumni, and experts from the fields of yoga and other related areas.
Full video of the event above and edited by Arcadia High's Apache News (APN) Team
In addition to the online component, students also had the opportunity to pick up a “swag bag,” which included goodies, such as bubbles, a booklet created by Arcadia Unified counselors with mental health and wellness strategies, tips, journal space, and more, and other items from sponsors. Students also had the opportunity to participate in a drawing, which featured a chance to win a tablet, apparel, and more. Of all the factors that went into organizing the event, Perez noted that community support was the biggest impact. Perez shared that she and her team were overcome with gratitude by the number of organizations, such as Care Solace, Foothill Credit Union, Arcadia Host Lion’s Club, and Arcadia Public Library, for their contribution that made these “swag bags'' possible.
“I was sitting here listening to [my student] share the highlights [of the summit] during lunch [...and] wow,” a Foothills Middle School parent shared via email.
The email also noted some of the highlights her student shared with her: “Positive affirmations: that was a good reminder! Breathing: turns out I have been breathing wrong all this time Kung fu: we did kung fu!!!!! [...] Videos of teachers: Ms. Salazar’s and Ms. Moore’s messages made me almost tear up. AHS alum: guess what? One girl went to all the same schools as me AND my dream college.”
While this is the first event of its kind, this is not the first time Arcadia Unified middle-schoolers have heard about the importance of mental and physical health. Since the beginning of the school year, Arcadia Unified’s middle school counselors and school psychologists have hosted myriad mental health events district-wide, ranging from weekly “Mindful Mondays,” daily wellness sessions, and individual counseling support.
“There are many supports available. Self-care is a lifelong journey,” Perez reaffirmed.
For more information on the Arcadia Unified Alive and Aware Wellness Discovery summit and to watch tune into the entire summit, visit http://bit.ly/aliveandaware, and for more information about the Arcadia Unified School District, visit www.ausd.net.