BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - In recent years, anxiety, especially among teens, has increased. Due to heavy workloads and balancing extracurriculars, stress has become a big problem, and schools around the country have taken notice. At the beginning of the school year, Governor Livingston made a change giving students a chance to take a break from their hectic school lives. In conjunction with a grant from the PTO GL was able to add a brand new feature to the school, deemed The Wellness Center.
The Wellness Center is a room which serves as a safe haven for students. The room has many different aspects, making it a great place for students to go when they feel stressed. Though it looks like a trendy hang-out center, it serves a greater purpose. GL’s French teacher Mr. David Peck said, “The Wellness Center had low lighting, nice seats, everything looked new and colorful, there was also a lot of stress-relieving games.” The center not only has many comfortable seating options, but also activities to relieve anxiety. Puzzles, silly putty, and noise cancelling headphones are just some of the tools students and staff can use to encourage relaxation.
There are also mindfulness tools. Mindfulness relates to meditation and being aware of one's surroundings. In The Wellness Center, there are tons of different mindfulness videotapes and breathing exercises that can be helpful during moments when students feel overwhelmed. In just the first few weeks of school, many students have paid a visit to the room just to explore the new features. Junior Olivia Ward had a positive experience. “[The Wellness Center] was pretty calming and relaxing, I actually tried one of the breathing exercises which surprisingly calmed me down.” Students are leaving feeling better than when they first came in, which was the administration’s goal when it implemented the resource.
Some students have already incorporated The Wellness Center into their lives. After having a great experience with it, senior Ciana Joseph said, “The reason I enjoy going to The Wellness Center is because I feel it is a safe and cool place to just calm down and overall just relieve my stress. Anxiety has grown among students so I think adding this to GL was a really great idea.” Joseph also feels it can be used by anyone. Many students think The Wellness Center should be a last resort when overwhelmed, but students should feel free to visit whenever they need a quick break from a crazy day.
Though there are numerous games to play, the room remains serene. Senior Jane Mirvis mentioned, “The wellness room smelled good, it was also super quiet and peaceful since you are not supposed to speak in there,” which ensures students will use the room for the right reasons.
Although students are enjoying the environment of the center, many, including Mirvis, feel there could be one more change. “Even though I really liked it and I can see the ideas behind the center, I do think it would be better to have more than ten minutes.” Since students may only visit The Wellness Center with a ten minute pass, some feel they simply cannot calm down within that short period. The ten-minute rule was set in place so students would not abuse the center to avoid doing schoolwork. If students are still feeling overwhelmed after the ten minutes are up they are allowed to go to the nurse or guidance for further help. However, if students are successful in the Wellness Center this year, additional time could be a future possibility.
Beginning this month through the end of November, students will have the opportunity to learn how to get the most out of the center. Seven workshops will be hosted in The Wellness Center in hopes of teaching each student the importance of mental health and how they can use these new tools to relax, becoming the best students they can be.