JFK hosts campus Wellness Fair designed to boost student mental health


Hailey Luistro, John F. Kennedy High School

John F. Kennedy High School’s Student Support Center hosted a Wellness Fair in hopes of boosting students’ mental health, which has been negatively affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Representatives from organizations such as National Alliance on Mental Illness, Shores of Hope, Stop the Stigma Sacramento County, and the Sacramento County Library gathered around the JFK quad to promote and raise awareness on a variety of topics regarding mental health. They set up tables and included many activities that had different purposes for students, providing lots of information and interesting facts.

“We wanted to host the Wellness Fair to normalize conversations about mental health and make mental health resources accessible to all students,” said Christina Harris, a counselor from JFK’s Student Support Center. “We also wanted to highlight activities and practices that support overall wellness.”

Harris said the Wellness Fair emphasized emotional wellness with exercises such as the chalk walk (engaging in creative expression), yoga (exercise, stretching and deep breathing), listening to music (processing emotions, a calming agent used to regulate mood), dancing (bodily movement often lifts a person’s mood), spending time outdoors (reduces stress) and connections to community (reduces loneliness, creates a sense of belonging, a safe place to gather).

“My favorite activity was writing on the Post-It notes to put up encouraging words,” said Samantha Tom, a student at JFK who attended the Wellness Fair.

The fair also had activities that helped students engage with their peers.

“I think the fair will help students’ mental health because it was a simple way to show support for your friends’ mental health, as well as your own,” Tom said.

Not only can wellness fairs prove to be useful for students, they also aren’t excruciating to set up.

“The actual event wasn’t difficult to organize,” Harris said. “There are many local agencies that are eager to make themselves available to our campus and our students. These agencies and organizations want students to know what they have to offer and events like wellness fairs provide visibility for them.” 

Mental health can be a challenging subject to bring up for many students. Not everyone feels comfortable talking about their feelings. 

“Since youth spend much of their time at school, schools offer an opportunity for early identification, prevention and interventions that serve students,” Harris said. “It can be scary to ask for help and challenging to admit that we are struggling. There are safe spaces in your community and at your school that can help you navigate getting the right kind of support for you.” 

Participants said the fair offered a great reminder for students that they aren’t alone in their journeys and that their feelings are validated. 

“The fair did a good job on connecting fun activities to highlight the issues of mental heath and what it feels like to get help,” said Zohair Habib, another JFK high school student. “I feel that the fair provided the students of Kennedy the knowledge of mental illness and that it is OK to get help.”