BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - As a new addition to Gov. Livingston High School, the Wellness Center has the ability to help students reduce their stress and relieve anxiety. Beyond taking time out during stressful moments in the day, many students are not aware of how to use the wellness center to maximize its use. 

To help students to understand how to utilize the space, the administrators set up a series of mindfulness workshops. Each course is designed to educate participants on different ways to use the Wellness Center effectively. The mindfulness workshop for students, held in October, November, January, and February have focused on activities students could do to achieve mindfulness in a school environment. Additional workshops were held in January for school faculty and staff. Future workshops will teach attendees exercises to reduce stress and how to deal with anxiety-inducing problems.

The workshops were run by Kerri Bacall from Springfield Holistic Wellness Center. Bacall is certified as a Mindfulness Instructor through Mindful Schools. Bascall had the students who attended sit on the carpet and discuss topics that were bothering them. She gave them ways to solve their problems through mindfulness activities. Bacall said, “These workshops are extremely beneficial for students and teachers when dealing with stress or emotions.” 

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Sophomore Eliana Proano, who has participated in the workshops, found the information to be helpful. She said, “The instructor gave us helpful ways to use mindfulness during the day through taking time to just take a break and breath.” Proano also said that she would definitely go back and hopes more people will attend. 

Bacall gave students ways to remain mindful through breathing and various exercises including meditating and learning to focus on one thing at a time. Makayla Curtis, a sophomore who also attended the workshop, said, “[The instructor] was insightful and inclusive for everyone, and really wanted everyone to participate.” 

Inspired by these workshops, Lauren Gomez, sophomore, wants to create a club at revolving around the Wellness Center. She wants to show students the capabilities of the Wellness Room. “[The workshops] were super calming and reassuring.” She wants to see more people attend these sessions because she believes this is a wonderful opportunity for everyone. 

Jackie Bartlett, Assistant Principal, who arranges the wellness workshops for the school said the workshops address a need in schools. When she was a teacher, she realized the stress that students face while in school. She tried to incorporate mindfulness into her classes, but was only able to help students from her class. 

When she was hired as Assistant Principal, Bartlett discussed the idea of setting up a place where students could go to unwind - this idea came to be the Wellness Center. She wants the students to “receive the tools needed to succeed in the future.” She hopes that through these workshops students will learn how to deal and reduce the amount of stress.