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A Focus on Wellness

A Focus on Wellness
Jackie Waters

The first ever Wellness Day at St. Mark's took place on Saturday, December 4. All morning, students participated in a variety of workshops and activities designed to promote physical, mental, and emotional well being. Led by faculty, health professionals, and even students, the workshops provided St. Markers with opportunities for reflection and helpful information about the importance of health and wellness.

The morning began with a choice between two keynote presentations: Anxiety in Athletics with Director of Wellness Carl Corazzini and Building a Better Body Image Culture from the Inside Out: How Values-Aligned Health and Wellness Goals Can Help You and Your Community with Amy Gardner from Metrowest Nutrition.

In the Anxiety in Athletics keynote, students participated in two activities that pushed them to look at their identities and what was at the core of their nerves. They were given post-it notes where they examined what they carried around in their lives each day that made them uneasy. Then they crafted an athletic timeline to see if any themes arose to help answer and name what gave them anxiety. "Although the focus of this workshop was athletics," notes Corazzini, "performance anxiety exists in all facets of our students' lives."

In the Putnam Family Arts Center's Class of '45 Hall, Gardner's keynote elevated student awareness of the body positivity movement and shared healthy ways to think about eating and one's self-concept. Gardner discussed wellness anchored in values and how to make healthy choices that would bring students closer to their values. "St. Markers asked thoughtful questions about the ways that various populations of students internalize messages about body image, and can be supported in the body positivity movement," observed Dean of Academics Nat Waters. "In particular, they wondered about the experiences of LGBTQIA students, and how to look out for friends who may be struggling. They were curious, active, and engaged."

In small group sessions, students explored options ranging from yoga, meditation, mandala art, and gratitude drawing to high intensity interval training and a conversation on human sexuality. In Real Talk About Sexual Health, Community Wellness Educator Lauren Martin '85 and Biology teacher Lindsey Lohwater co-led a student-centered conversation around reproductive and sexual health; it featured questions students anonymously submitted in advance and generated good conversation around understandings and misunderstandings.

Yoga Flow, One Love, Gratitude Drawing, and the Body Positive Workshop were all led by St. Mark's students, includingI VI Formers Lowell Fenstermacher, Laurie Wang, Hannah Macleod, Carmen Tosi, Perry Schmitz, Suha Choi, and Karina Skinner. Interim Assistant Director of Athletics Luke Chiasson '15 took students on a nature walk, Dean of Students David Vachris taught St. Markers how to apologize, and mathematics teacher Scott Dolesh offered an opportunity to connect with Special Olympic athletes.

"We wanted students to actively engage in self-reflection in each of the sessions that they participated in, and hopefully come away with one tool that could help them become the best version of themselves and lead a healthy lifestyle," said Corazzini. "There is the aspiration that this day will serve as a foundation for many more events that will look after the health and well-being of our community."

Photograph by Adam Richins Photography

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