Wayne Valley Wellness Initiative

Wayne Valley Wellness Initiative

“I love seeing the steps Wayne Valley is taking to ensure their students get the best support they need within the school,” says Peer Leaders Vice President (and member of the Wayne Valley Climate and Culture Committee) Mady McDermott. “A lot has happened in our lives recently, and I think it’s perfect to know that our school has our backs.” McDermott, along with Peer Leaders President Claudia Greczek and several Wayne Valley teachers/administrators, is working to ensure that the Wayne Valley Wellness Initiative successfully provides students with the resources that they need to succeed.

As an integral aspect of the Wellness Initiative, Wayne Valley will be hosting the Wellness Fair on Friday, April 8th for the first time since 2019. (Although the event is traditionally held every spring, it has been suspended due to the pandemic.) The Wellness Fair will be located all day in the main gym, and students will spend their physical education and health blocks traveling between booths. These booths, hosted by organizations like Peer Leaders and the National Honor Society, will present wellness tips (from mindfulness to sleep tactics), as well as hands-on activities (like making your own stress ball). 

The physical education teachers are also working to incorporate wellness as a major component of their curricula. For instance, Wayne Valley has partnered with Bacall Wellness (a branch of the Springfield Holistic Wellness program) to present and educate about mindfulness meditation, positive affirmations, and other related techniques.

In addition, Wayne Valley is one of thirty-six schools in the state of New Jersey to receive a grant that provides the entire junior class with teen Mental Health First Aid training. Assistant Principal Mr. Wisniewski explains, “This program provides an excellent opportunity for students to better understand mental health, and also the ability to support their friends or families who may be in crisis.” Three Wayne Valley guidance counselors were specially trained to provide support and resources to students, alongside a professor from William Paterson. The grant also requires at least 10% of our staff members to be trained in youth Mental Health First Aid.

To further the Wellness Initiative, therapy dogs are visiting Wayne Valley during lunch on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. A handful of Wellness Weekends, during which students are not assigned additional work to be completed, are also interspersed throughout the year. 

Even the annual Third-Party Compliment program, which commemorates February as the Month of Kindness, contributes to the initiative. Through the Third-Party Compliment program, students were able to submit anonymous compliments to classmates and teachers. The Google Form closed in mid-February, and distribution of the compliments is anticipated to begin soon.

In the future, Mr. Wisniewski hopes to expand the Wellness Initiative even further to provide more resources throughout Wayne, like implementing youth Mental Health First Aid training for parents within the community. “Even before the pandemic, our efforts have been to support the whole student,” reflects Mr. Wisniewski. “Similar to providing study skills, we want to provide students with self-care techniques and strategies so students can be focused on doing their best academically. The wellness and mindfulness strategies and practices are ones that students can carry with them through college and their lives.”