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Warr;ors Club Empowers Student Mental Health at Fair

two girls with notes How do you find comfort and relaxation through your five senses? Perhaps you enjoy sipping tea, lighting a fragrant candle, embracing a loved one, contemplating a breathtaking view during a walk, or dancing to your favorite tunes?

At the fifth-annual Mental Health and Wellness Fair, North Salem Middle/High School students discovered ways to enhance their well-being by engaging their senses at a station full of stimulating and calming activities.

"Just like physical health, everyone has mental health. You've got to check in with how you're feeling and what your mind and body need," said Sam, a senior and co-president of the Warr;ors Club. She wants her classmates to know that there is always someone to talk to, ways to manage their emotions, and resources to support them.

The Warr;ors Club organized the outdoor fair with 20 stations to promote mental health and advocacy discussions. Student clubs, along with professionals from different fields, advised students on practical techniques for managing stress, self-care, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

"The environment affects how you feel, so if you help the environment, you're helping yourself," said junior Rebecca representing the Environmental Club. She collected positive affirmations from students to read during morning announcements.

Laurie Markieweicz, a registered dietitian at Northern Westchester Hospital, handed out cups of trail mix containing mixtures of grains, proteins, and dried fruits. "It's good to give the kids options, try new things like dried edamame and chickpeas, and combine food groups for snacks," said Markieweicz.

two students at a tableGreg Eves shared information about the Suicide Prevention Center of New York's crisis text line and the newly launched 988 crisis hotline, which allow individuals to seek help through texting, calling, or chatting on the website. "North Salem has some of the most polite and engaging students I've met in the past year," he said.

"The kids have been so engaged and genuinely want to have conversations," said Sam Merkt, a healthcare advocate with My Sister's Place. Her group's activity focused on encouraging self-esteem with positive affirmations. At the following table, representatives from the Child Advocacy Center of Putnam County asked students to draw positive messages of resilience for children visiting the center. Nearby, students gathered to pet chickens from Board of Education Trustee Brandy Keenan's flock and Trooper, a police dog.

"It's about being there for one another in whatever capacity that means, no matter the seriousness of your struggle. We are creating a community surrounding love and support," said Ellie Haney, who promoted her Here For You branded clothing and accessories.

 4 Girls pose next to their chalk drawings on driveway"Our booth is all about making connections. We found that when kids connect, it helps with all problems: anxiety, depression, social isolation," said Mindy Lobb, representing Sandy Hook Promise. The organization aims to end violence in communities by building relationships.

"They're promoting finding something that you can do yourself to improve your school and getting involved in your community," said junior Lola, who felt inspired by Sandy Hook Promise to spread positivity around the school. "I can be an agent of change."