Worthy and Well

In a day and age where children and adolescents seem more vulnerable than ever to bullying and online social pressures, the time has never seemed more appropriate for schools such as St. Mary’s to embark on combat maneuvers to help the future generation navigate its way through the social and behavioral land mines posed by the 21st century.

St. Mary’s is where I found my worth.-Nicole Hamel, St. Mary’s Catholic School, Valedictorian Class of 2024

Tucked inside every child’s heart is the gift of wonder- a way of looking at their world with innocent curiosity before time and life experience cloud their perspective. Sometimes, as children age, their natural self-confidence can wane and even flounder amidst outside criticisms, especially now with social media and online distractions preying on their self-esteem. Questions such as, “Am I good enough? Smart enough? Attractive enough?” creep into their psyche and can, unfortunately, linger well past the traditional time of teenage awkwardness.

At this important juncture of development, approaches to holistic wellness become very important. St. Mary’s Catholic School in Lynn recognizes this, and the school has incorporated intentional wellness initiatives into its current and long-term strategic plans.

From the moment one steps onto campus, visitors are surrounded by beautiful landscaping that conveys an immediate sense of serenity. Upon entering the school, students can be seen quietly studying together in learning pods, engaging in polite, respectful conversations with faculty members, and happily switching classrooms between periods. It almost seems too good to be true. But it isn’t.

This “Home of the Spartans” is doing something right- very right. With the help of a Catholic Health Foundation grant, the school recently embarked upon a Health Awareness Project, a plan to improve practices and programs that will support the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, vocational, and social health of their students in grades K-12. The primary goal is to bring balance into the lives of the staff, students, and families by focusing on the importance of the choices they make and the consequences of those choices.

St. Mary’s also created a Health Awareness Committee that reviewed and updated wellness policies. Additionally, the school hosted a health fair to disseminate information and issue community surveys to assess the need for further community educational opportunities. For example, which would the school community be most interested in learning about– how to navigate teen depression or how to educate on the dangers of vaping? Community involvement is key to creating opportunities that not only serve the needs of the students but the needs of the families as well.

St. Mary’s has rolled its early initiatives into the larger curriculum to challenge students to discover their authentic selves. The hope is that these Spartans will learn to cultivate their unique selves within a broader community so that they can thrive and aspire toward greatness, however they define that word.

In a day and age where children and adolescents seem more vulnerable than ever to bullying and online social pressures, the time has never seemed more appropriate for schools such as St. Mary’s to embark on combat maneuvers to help the future generation navigate its way through the social and behavioral land mines posed by the 21st century.

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