Worry Free Wednesdays at Frederica Academy
Rachael Lee, counselor at Frederica Academy (GA), explains one component of their student health and wellness program.
The goal of “Worry Free Wednesday” is to promote and enhance student wellness, including mental, emotional, and physical health for our upper school students. This once-a-month event is held during break time and sponsored by the upper school’s Health and Wellness Club. Activities focus on a variety of topics including mental health awareness, anti-bullying, and suicide awareness. In January, to learn about the ways exercise benefits mental health, the students had a Zumba lesson outdoors, in between classes. In February, the Health and Wellness Club invited the local chapter of Therapy Dogs International to bring therapy dogs to the school as an opportunity for students to benefit from the calming, healthy effects of spending time with the canines. Therapy dogs have been shown to lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and promote the release of serotonin in the brain. The opportunity for students to interact with the therapy dogs was part of the club’s February study of the Five Love Languages. With activities planned for each of the five love languages, the therapy dog visit represented the language of physical touch. (The other four languages are acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and words of affirmation.)
Worry Free Wednesdays take a proactive approach to teaching students about how to care for their well-being while also bringing the students together for social connection. Club members report, “It brings the student body together and makes school a lot more fun.”
Like Frederica Academy, furry, four-legged friends can also be found at The Benjamin School as part of their Wellness Wednesdays.
Mental Health Awareness Activities at The Benjamin School
Renea Yates, student services counselor at The Benjamin School (FL), shares a few of the opportunities organized to support student health and wellness on their campus.
Mindful Mondays offer students time during advisory to decompress by practicing guided breathing, yoga, meditation, or any other calming activities. Some activities are teacher-led and some are student-led.
The campus support dog, Winnie, visits every week for Wellness Wednesdays. Winnie, a six-year-old Schnauzer mix, provides physiological, emotional, and social support for students. Once a month, the upper school’s Mental Health and Wellness Club hosts a special event with Winnie, offering tips and strategies for managing stress and anxiety.
The club has also offered stress management activities during lunch and club time. These include music, coloring, fidgets, speakers, puppy cams, interactive discussions, and mood booster snacks. In January, the club invited speaker Rylee from Minding Your Mind to advisory. Rylee spoke to students about her mental health challenges and shared her story of hope and resilience and the message that it is never too early or too late to seek help. Advisors led discussion groups about the importance of taking care of our minds and allowed students to share how they practice mental wellness.
For the lower grades, peer advisors speak to younger students on topics related to mental health and wellness like stress management, the importance of sleep, being kind and inclusive, and positive peer pressure.
The school will support Mental Health Awareness Month during May by wearing green on designated days and participating in activities that remind students to “be kind to your mind.”