Bellows Falls Union High School and Compass School brought teams of students to participate in the Umatter YYA program last month. These youth were excited to participate because they wanted to learn how to cope with their own stress and how to help their friends in distress.
The Umatter YYA program begins with a one day training event where youth learn the core components of how to maintain good mental health. This includes understanding the 5 dimensions of health, how to cope with stress, and develop a growth mindset. Using experiential games, videos, creative projects, and group discussion these concepts are explored and applied to real life examples.
When asked about the types of stressful situations youth are dealing with in their schools, participants listed dealing with problems within families, school violence, losing people close to them, difficulties in dating relationships, school work load, worries about life after high school, worrying about what others think of them, and talking in front of a large group of people.
By the end of the day, participants knowledge of how to deal with these situations in positive and constructive ways increased by 50%. They walked away with renewed focus on their strengths and how they can use them to help others.
The groups are now meeting regularly to plan and implement Community Action Projects. In May, these schools will join 10 other schools, who participated in the Umatter YYA statewide training event in January, to celebrate their work, inspire others, and determine how to continue to support their own and other’s mental wellness.