SPEAK Week Returns to Watertown High School, 2022’s Theme: Strive to Thrive

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Watertown Youth Coalition Peer Leaders and Wayside staff with Wes from Minding Your Mind.

The 12th annual SPEAK Week was back at Watertown High School (WHS) March 14-18 !! SPEAK
(Sharing Personal Experiences and Knowledge) Week is organized by Wayside Multi Service Center’s Watertown Youth Coalition (WYC) Peer Leaders from WHS.

Every year, in collaboration with Watertown High School, WYC Peer Leaders organize a fun-filled and educational week with special guest speakers, activities, and knowledge building that relate to helping youth make positive healthy choices.

For this year’s SPEAK Week; themed “Strive to Thrive,” students engaged in assemblies, workshops, and activities throughout the week that addressed Mental Health and Wellness, LGBTQIA Safe Spaces, Mindfulness and Stress Reduction, Therapeutic Music, Speak Up Art Sessions and a visit from Lydia the Comfort Dog. It was a very impactful week for many. More info on each workshop or speaker is listed at the end of this article.

Alongside Wayside staff and WHS faculty, Watertown Youth Coalition Peer Leaders organized and ran the 12th annual week-long event which was supported by a grant from the Watertown Community Foundation. In addition to the scheduled assemblies and workshops, Peer Leaders ran various activities at lunch time including a photo activity where students identified positive coping skills they can use to help themselves cope with stress on a daily basis.

Students were very engaged in the events and asked that these types of wellness activities be a regular part of the school week or month.

The Watertown Youth Coalition and Peer Leaders would like to thank Watertown High School for collaborating on a successful SPEAK Week event and a huge thank you to the Watertown Community Foundation for their support of SPEAK Week 2022! For more information on the Watertown Youth Coalition check our website www.watertownyouthcoalition.org, please contact
Zhane_Goode@waysideyouth.org or visit and like our Facebook page! facebook.com/watertownyouthcoalition/

SPEAK OUT BOSTON

The nation’s oldest LGBTQIA speakers bureau, “ Speak Out Boston” brought a panel of people who identify as part of the queer community. Each shared their particular journey navigating the world we live in as other than cis-gendered, heterosexual people. Their stories help students of all identities see that they too can come to live with the identity they believe is true for them and not conform to what others expect of them with a narrow level of acceptance. https://www.speakoutboston.org/

Wes from “Minding Your Mind” came to offer two assemblies speaking of his experience of anxiety during his lifetime. Visit www.mindingyourming.org to learn more about Wes and other young people’s journey through mental health challenges.

Sukriti K Dabral, A Wellness Educator, offered sessions called “Feel Better”, Connecting Your Brain with Your Body. Through interaction with students, they brainstorm ways of connecting your mind with the present moment to use the healthy part of our mind – our intelligence! – to support awareness of what’s happening here and now. Sukriti guided the students through A Mind-Body Connection Practice: 8-Part Body Scan to use in their daily lives. Priceless😊

Therapeutic Musical Journey: Lyzzy and Lily, two Graduate students at Lesley University studying Music Therapy came and shared music activities that taught students to identify ways to cope with stressful things in their lives. It lifted our spirits and many smiles, bodies swaying, and foot tapping were evident!

Lydia the comfort dog came for two full days to visit with many students who flowed through the library with their class or found their way in on their own to spend a few quality minutes with this dog. Lydia was comforting to many and did not expect anymore than a pet, a hug or a belly rub. Lydia was definitely a big hit!

Speak Up Art Session: Kingian Non-Violence Watertown, led by Kingian student leaders and former WMS teacher Ruth Henry, was an interactive artistic opportunity for students to reflect on what is important to them to speak up about, what can sometimes get in the way, and how art can help us through it.

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