May kicks off Mental Health Month and starting on Monday, May 4, it's time for the Oceanside community to engage in some TLC during Wellness Week. Wellness Week is hosted by the Oceanside School District, the Makeshift Movement and the Oceanside SAFE Coalition. The effort will take place online on the Makeshift Movement website
"Each day will have a theme and links to a variety of activities," said Ali Eriksen, of The Makeshift Movement and Oceanside SAFE. "There will be options for staying active at home, mindfulness practices, coping techniques and even recipes." There will also be discussion, highlighting Oceanside community members, about how people are coping with social/physical distancing.
Organizers will publish new content daily for Oceansiders of all ages to cultivate physical, emotional and mental well-being. It will include good news, music, healthy and enjoyable activities, and resources for learning more about wellness topics. Wellness Week was originally going to take place in person and was moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Students from the Oceanside High School Youth Council played a role in organizing the event. Two students who are involved, Bryanin Sacher and Rachel Tricolla, both tenth graders, talked about the importance of wellness now more than ever, given the stressful circumstances. Briyanin highlighted how the loss of their normal school routines due to the pandemic requires students to exert greater self-discipline to complete their schoolwork.
Rachel echoed those sentiments. "It's hard for everyone to keep to a regular schedule," she said, acknowledging that her sleep cycle has been erratic, something she is now working to rein back in.
Both students said that they try to engage in positive activities such as walks outside and relaxing with their families as an antidote to the stress. They also rely on apps like Calm and Headspace for relaxation, especially to quiet down before sleep. During the Wellness Week, these and other apps and resources will be introduced to the community as tools for nurturing a positive mindset and reducing stress.
Sara Dowler, an Oceanside High School health teacher and Youth Group advisor, as well as chair of the Oceanside SAFE Coalition, Jaclyn Sileo, an OHS school counselor, and Kaitlyn Marciano, an OHS health and physical education teacher, worked with Eriksen and Jessica DiRocco of the Makeshift Movement as well as the students to launch the project. Other participants include members of the OHS Mental Health and Wellness Committee.
"Participating in Wellness Week is one of many ways the school district is seeking to encourage students and their families to take an active role in nurturing well-being, which is vital to optimal learning," Dowler said. Among other projects, the district has received a grant through State Sen. Todd Kaminsky's office to create a wellness center at the high school, beginning in the fall of 2020. With school currently closed, the Mental Health and Wellness Committee, chaired by associate principal Joelle Mazun, recently created an Oceanside Virtual Wellness Center at https://www.smore.com/5evhg
"We knew we couldn’t have the in-person wellness fair that we had planned but we also knew there would be an even greater need to offer our community a variety of activities and support at this time," Mazun said. "We hope that we can encourage everyone to engage in self-care through this most difficult and uncertain time."
The virtual Wellness Center offers links to videos, music, exercise, meditation, journaling prompts and activities, relaxation techniques, coloring pages and apps, games, puzzles and more.
The Makeshift Movement is a non-profit organization dedicated to breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness, suicide and substance abuse to empower individuals and communities to find solutions. The Oceanside SAFE Coalition is dedicated to preventing substance abuse with a particular emphasis on underage drinking and marijuana use.
Courtesy Oceanside School District; compiled by Briana Bonfiglio.