TECUMSEH — Mental health was at the forefront of everyone’s mind at Tecumseh Middle School Sept. 21.
For the first half of the school day, the middle school hosted the first “Be Kind to Your Mind” mental health expo, according to a news release from the district’s communications office.
The idea behind the event was to discuss student wellness, with mental health being the main topic. The goal was to promote and foster mental wellness.
The pressures of daily life are challenging even under the best circumstances. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, students (and even adults) may still be dealing with anxiety and stress, which can have lasting effects.
The “Be Kind to Your Mind” event had several 25-minute minisessions that included topics on bullying, social media, healthy eating, coping with anxiety and communicating with parents.
More than 800 students from the middle school took part, and over 65 people volunteered. The volunteers included current staff, Tecumseh High School students, Tecumseh High School alumni and professionals from around the state.
The idea for the event was introduced in May by board of education member Mary Tommelein. A retired school counselor, Tommelein helped form a committee that met over the summer and continued to meet leading up to the event.
When students weren’t attending the mini-sessions, they had opportunities to learn about volunteerism, take pictures in the “Why You Matter” photo booth and play some games.
A motivational speaker made a guest appearance. Students were split up by grades and headed to the Tecumseh Center for the Arts to hear from the keynote speaker, Mike Smith, who held two virtual sessions. Smith is the executive director for The Bay, a nonprofit skatepark in Lincoln, Nebraska. He’s also created the nonprofit organization Skate for Change, which is an organization that empowers young skateboarders to help the homeless in their communities.
Throughout the two sessions, Smith talked about his experience of learning the importance of being kind to others and caring about people other than yourself. He took that approach late in high school, carried it through college, and now in his professional career. He advocates for other marginalized people in his community, such as the homeless.
Today, mental wellness is a topic that Smith touches on routinely. He says it’s essential for people to understand that it’s OK not to be OK.
“If the pandemic taught us anything, it was that we all realized we must learn how to take care of ourselves,” Smith said. “The path to moving forward, the path to change, starts from within.”
Tecumseh High School will host its first “Be Kind to Your Mind” event in December.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort