Health & Wellness

Westfield Students Unwind and Learn Through Girl Thing/Guy Thing Health Programs

a7e1bc1fcead8c4c3bca_07dd6ffb691e780a4fb0_e0a0419587f905431a12_IMG_1805.JPG
Past Westfield High School students participated in the Girl Thing, a health program designed to educate, guide, advise and help kids work through stress.
048555be58d77eebf087_ef97913eafd3f4d48fcc_IMG_1774.JPG
Westfield High School seniors help run the Girl Thing, a health program designed to educate, guide, advise and help kids work through stress.
a7e1bc1fcead8c4c3bca_07dd6ffb691e780a4fb0_e0a0419587f905431a12_IMG_1805.JPG

WESTFIELD, NJ — Students at Westfield High School recently participated in the Girl Thing and the Guy Thing, health programs designed to educate, guide, advise and help kids work through stress associated with being a teenager. Most of the activities took place during evening “retreats” at the school.

Activities included hearing anonymous letters from seniors about what they wished they knew as freshmen, open discussions about sensitive topics and presentations from WHS faculty and other members of the Westfield community.

“My hope is that all students leave these retreats feeling less alone, more connected and with a new appreciation and perspective on what really matters in life,” said founder and WHS health teacher Susan Koelsar. “I also want them to realize that there are positive and negative ways to cope with loss, stress, rejection and any obstacles life throws at them. Finding a support system, communicating, avoiding drugs and alcohol and finding healthy outlets for emotions rather than trying to suppress them or get them out in destructive ways is key. Finally, I want them to realize that their struggles can be used to help others. We should use our mistakes and failures, as well as our successes, to help one another.”

Sign Up for E-News

Koelsar said that she originally started the Guy Thing back in 2004 as a way to discuss mental health issues in a male-only environment. When girls at the school heard about it, they asked her to start one for them, as well.

While the Girl Thing took root and was an instant success, Kolesar said interest in the Guy Thing has been inconsistent. She was able to revive it last year with help from student leaders.

In past years, both programs took place during school, with students either attending events during free periods or instead of class.

“Scheduling the events during the day is a logistical nightmare,” Kolesar said. “In addition, students were sometimes reluctant to miss class and some teachers were reluctant to let them go. It also required finding large enough spaces in the building to meet and it was difficult to take attendance.”

So last year she made the Girl Thing a one-evening event.

“We ran the nighttime retreat for the girls and really liked the way it went,” Kolesar said. “So that is why we followed suit with the Guy Thing this year.”

The new format also allowed for uninterrupted, thus deeper, discussion.

The Girl Thing took place this year in March at the high school cafeteria. Female WHS seniors, called “covergirls,” helped by running food stations, playing music, taking pictures, leading discussions and reading senior letters.

There was a nice turnout and the event was successful, Kolesar said. She said that the girls “did various ice-breakers, watched a few motivational videos, heard from two teachers at the school, Madame Hoffman and Dr. Philipps, who shared personal stories of overcoming adversity, and then heard and discussed the anonymous ‘What I Wish I Knew Then’ letters from the senior girls, the hallmark of the program. We always end with a little dance time to unwind from the intensity of the evening.”

The Guy Thing also took place in March, also with help from senior volunteers, called “wingmen.”

“The guys started with some Indian Pin, ate a meal together and then listened to Mr. Browne, a favorite and long-term substitute teacher at WHS who shared some of his wisdom with them about coming of age and work ethic,” Kolesar said. “He was followed by WHS alum Marc Cervantes, class of 2012, who at 22 years of age is a regional airline pilot. He spoke about the importance of finding mentors to support and guide you in life as well as staying focused on your dreams, and giving back and being a mentor for others.”

Kolesar said that the boys built a wall to symbolize the stigma associated with males expressing emotion. At the end of the night, they tore this wall down to represent the destruction of these stereotypes and to say that it’s okay to be expressive.

Both the girls and the guys had the opportunity at their events to create “Hearts of Hope” for grieving families at Imagine, a Center for Coping with Loss.

An additional Guy Thing event was offered in-school later that month to cover more topics, including sex ed.

Kolesar thanked several people for their support and help to make the programs possible.

“We had about 70 seniors step up to be facilitators, more than any year prior,” she said. “Additionally, administrative assistants, custodians, substitute teachers, teachers and administrators offered a tremendous of support. Thanks to Mr. Ron Allen, the former school resource officer at WHS. The Westfield PAL also jumped on board to help fund these events. The PTSO supported the program financially as well, having members provide baked goods and drinks for the events. Additional funding was provided by The Westfield Municipal Alliance, substitute teacher Mr. Frank Browne and Mrs. Debra Bonomi. Casa Di Pizza and community member Mr. Greg Gradel, a Dunkin Donuts executive, also offered assistance to help us afford to feed the students. Ms. Spreitzer, a colleague of mine who has been assisting me with these programs for the past several years, deserves a special thank you, as well.”

Sarah Boyle is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

NJ Flags to Fly at Half-Staff for Jerry Green May 7

April 24, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order on Monday for New Jersey flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on the day of the upcoming General Assembly session, scheduled for May 7, in memory of Assemblyman Jerry Green, former chair of the Union County Democratic Committee, who died last week.

On Thursday, Governor Murphy had said, ...

2018 Municipal Budget is on Collision Course with Principles of Financial Soundness & Stability

April 18, 2018

Having chaired the town council’s finance committee in the recent past, I appreciate the hard work that goes into developing a municipal budget for a town as large and dynamic as Westfield. But as I have expressed publicly and also to the mayor and my council colleagues, I do not support the adoption of Westfield’s 2018 municipal budget. Although the budget contains much that I ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_26bff2b330d314777eae_library

Wed, April 25, 10:00 AM

Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield

Westfield Memorial Library Spring Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, April 25, 12:00 PM

Temple Emanu-El, Westfield

Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Kroloff

Religions And Spirituality

Carousel_image_0d1e344b249d6f43f819_spring_2018_film_fest_

Wed, April 25, 7:30 PM

Rialto NewVision Theater, Westfield

Jewish Film Festival of Central NJ - Ben Gurion: ...

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Police Blotter: Residence Burglarized & More

April 18, 2018

April 11, 2018 10:23 a.m.

Raymond Rodgers, 56, of Westfield, NJ was arrested in the area of E. Broad Street. Rodgers was arrested pursuant to an unrelated traffic investigation. Rogers was transported to Westfield Police HQ without incident. At WPD HQ, Rodgers was processed and released after posting the full bail amount ($250). Rodgers was arrested on the strength of an outstanding Westfield ...

Learning to Fly Drones at Lamberts Mill Academy

April 24, 2018

Thanks to a very generous donation from the Columbia Bank Foundation the students at Lamberts Mill Academy are learning how to build, program and fly drones. This innovative program will ensure that students gain skills needed for 21st Century employment. 

 

Lamberts Mill Academy, located in Westfield, New Jersey, is part of the Union County Educational Services Commission.

Ways to Increase Your Home's Equity

Sometimes you forget and don’t realize your home provides so much to your life. It brings along with it your dreams of the future, shelter to you and your family, a way to provide a better lifestyle, a better commute, a neighborhood, schools, community involvement and recreational facilities. But it also provides a way to save for the future. It does this by allowing you to build your ...

Westfield Public Schools Welcomes Community to Auditorium Open Houses

Two years ago, voters in Westfield approved a bond referendum to renovate the aging auditoriums in Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools. Major aspects of the renovations include new seating and flooring, electrical and lighting upgrades, state-of-the-art sound systems, acoustical treatments and air conditioning.

On April 11 and 12, students, staff, families and other members of the ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center

 

Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...

Obituaries

Oct 21, 1944 - Apr 14, 2018
Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
Read more

‘A Sad Day for Paterson’ as Police Officer Loses Life in Car Crash

April 23, 2018

PATERSON, NJ — On what Paterson Superior Officers Association President Mason Maher called “a sad day for Paterson,” a city police officer lost his life on Sunday after he was involved in a motor vehicle collision while on duty.

Several sources familiar with Sunday’s tragic accident have identified the fallen officer as Tamby Yagan, a 13-year veteran of the ...