Since its arrival, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented people all over the world with an interminable list of challenges and hardships while upending schedules, routines and nearly all sense of familiarity with our "normal" ways of life. While more than a year later the nation is fortunately, yet cautiously, proceeding closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, the curtailment of cases does not mean that concomitant concerns, such as the impact of the pandemic on youth mental health, will not linger for the foreseeable future.
As Harriton High School transitioned to a complete reopening towards the end of March, faculty and staff made concerted efforts to emphasize student care, well aware of what a toll the past year had taken on adolescent youth. While much had been done to provide extra supports, teachers and administrators recognized the need to do more, which is why Harriton instituted a "Wellness Wednesday" to provide students with a well-deserved interlude to the usual end-of-year stress that comes with final exams, grades and report cards.
Wellness Wednesday, which was held on June 2, allowed interested students to sign up for one of seven 30-minute restorative activities which would excuse them from a portion of their extended set-eight afternoon class. More than 150 students chose to participate in the first-ever Wellness Wednesday program, which included Spin Classes (indoor cycling); Therapy Dog sessions; Guided Imagery and Mindfulness Meditation workshops; ZENtangle art therapy; and Talk Circles.
While Wellness Wednesday may have been a slight disruption to the daily schedule and required a lot of work and coordination, Harriton faculty and staff, under the leadership of Assistant Principal Mike Johnson and the Guidance Department, were more than happy to do what was necessary to bring the program to fruition. Due to the success of the event, Harriton plans to grow the program next year and offer it to students on a more consistent basis.