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Self-Care…in School?

In a culture punctuated by extreme materialism and online media overflowing with wellness and health content, what does self-care mean in our own lives? 

Bianca Campbell, the Restorative Justice teacher on special assignment for Montclair Public Schools, and Whitney Gibbs, a Montclair High School student assistance counselor, have decided to answer this question for as many MHS students as possible- by bringing self-care to school. In the first program of its kind at Montclair High School, Campbell and Gibbs have launched a Self-Care Toolkit Workshop.

The workshop’s mission is to equip students with strategies to help manage the many difficult feelings that accompany a busy high school schedule, including worry and anxiety about grades or stress from class and extracurriculars. Using a broad definition of self-care, the workshop will provide new strategies for participants to take on mental health challenges within the school environment.

By using physical and mental approaches to thinking, planning, centering and reflecting, the workshop uses intuitive techniques to deal with difficult feelings and circumstances. Although Gibbs and Campbell did not want to reveal too much about what’s in store for sessions to come, they encouraged anyone interested in learning about the program to join the last two sessions on May 8th and 15th. These sessions will incorporate outside activities in the spirit of spring and nature!

The program will offer facilitators and students an opportunity to work on building healthy relationships and creating a positive community at school, where “harm is reduced,” Campbell explained. Gibbs, who originally proposed the idea of a self-care workshop for students, works with students struggling in many different areas. Together, Gibbs and Campbell are a team especially qualified to help students navigate through mental and physical wellness. 

The workshop’s first meeting was April 24. Lulu Witten, one of the workshop’s first attendees, said she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found many of the strategies shared helpful. 

“I appreciate that it’s just less stigmatized … I feel like [school] is never really open to having dialogue about the actual stress load of work … so having an actual class that helps with that, I appreciate,” Witten said.

On top of being able to destigmatize the idea of self-care and wellness, Campbell and Gibbs stressed that the content of the program is designed to promote engagement and community among students.

Even shy students can find their place in this self-care workshop. It is a space where students are encouraged to engage with peers, but are never forced to speak (a welcome change from many academic classes). After all, being mentally and physically well contributes to a heightened ability to thrive in school both socially and academically, Gibbs and Campbell stressed. 

Students are already setting goals for what they want to accomplish through the workshop- Witten said she is looking forward to working on honing “better communication skills with people around in [her] life to talk about stress.” 

You can find the self-care workshop in the library, in the Restorative Justice room on the right side, next to the library printers. See you there!

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About the Contributor
Trinity Williamson
Trinity Williamson, Staff Writer
Trinity Williamson is a junior at Montclair High School and a musician at Juilliard's Pre-College Division. Trinity has a passion for writing in-depth features and investigative pieces. When not writing for the Mountaineer, Trinity enjoys listening to music (her favorite artists are SZA and J. Cole) and journaling- she watches basketball, football, and tennis in her free time. Trinity loves to travel and consistently attends music camps every summer. She aspires to one day become a psychiatric nurse, in addition to having a musical career.

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