‘Positive’ connections: Area students buddy up for mental health

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Eisenhower fifth-grader Haley Ferrie reaches for a ball Friday during the Hungry Hippos portion of the culminating activities of Mental Health Week. Ferrie’s high school buddy, Mackenzie Dunn, is in the background waiting for her chance to bring back a ball.

Students at Eisenhower Elementary and Middle High Schools buddied up for mental health on Friday.

Each elementary school student spent the afternoon with a middle or high school student.

“This is the culmination of all that we have done this week — Mental Health Week,” Counselor Lori Hahn said. “We want kids to realize that relationships are fundamental to mental health.”

“We’re trying to help kids make relationships,” Principal Ericka Alm said. “It’s about positive peer relationships and being mentors.”

“For the little kids, it’s about giving them someone they can look up to and make a connection so when they transition to the high school, they have that connection,” Hahn said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Eisenhower student Jonathan Dunn puts a scavenger hunt item in a bag held by Mental Health Week high school buddy Camron Jakubczak on Friday during the culminating activities of Mental Health Week.

Fourth-grader Eva Slye spent the afternoon with ninth-grader Cali Chapman. They were not acquainted before, but their friendship grew quickly. “She’s the best,” Slye said.

“Eva is definitely the best,” Chapman said.

“This week has been really chill, relaxing,” she said. “I appreciate our teachers and administrators giving us a week to refocus so we’re ready for the end of the school year and our finals.”

Slye’s favorite day of Mental Health Week was “definitely PJ Day,” she said.

“I’m excited,” Hahn said. “It’s been a good week.”

Friday afternoon, the students all headed outside to three stations – kickball, a scavenger hunt, and Hungry Hippos. The high school kids had a cookout courtesy of Nutrition Inc., with hot dogs, hamburgers, even watermelon.

“Every day, they got mental health tips,” she said. “What to look for. What to be aware of. Contact information for local organizations.”

“It’s really good,” Riley Wilson said.

“I’ll remember it,” Wilson’s buddy, Kris Bunk said.

At the Hungry Hippos event, Bunk somersaulted as he arrived at the center of the circle to take a ball and again as he arrived at the hula hoop to drop off the ball.

Why? “Just to get the kids all hype, energetic, get their minds off of class,” he said.


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