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Photo Times Observer by Brian Ferry Members of AWWA – Accepting Who We Are – at Eisenhower High School include, from left, Peyton Kellogg, Kiley Youngberg, Alyssa Wismar, Nicole Hitchcock and Andrew Allen. The group strives to encourage a positive mental health message throughout the school and community.

Students at Eisenhower High School work on mental health.

The group AWWA – Accepting Who We Are – formed this year after the deaths of students at Warren Area High School impacted students across the district.

Two students approached school counselor Lori Hahn on the same day to see what they could do.

“They were worried and wanted to have more discussions about mental health at school,” said Hahn. “We started thinking and we created the AWWA group.”

The students identified some important topics – like anxiety and stress – for the student body.

The group meets regularly — once a week — with varying attendance, depending on other activities.

“Sometimes we have 10, sometimes five or six,” said Hahn.

“Usually Mrs. Hahn will teach us something about mental health,” said Peyton Kellogg. “We talk about it in a newspaper. We are talking about it. »

“Recently we talked about Mental Health Awareness Week and what we can do about it,” said Kellogg.

During the week of May 9, AWWA will be hosting special dress-up-themed events with messages every day.

To start the week, members will put notes with inspirational messages on the lockers, Andrew Allen said.

Students will be encouraged to wear their pajamas to school on Sweet Monday as a symbol everyone needs to rest and relax. Along with that will be advice on how to deal with stress and anxiety, Hahn said.

Tuesday is Twin Day to help remind students — “you’re not alone” said Alyssa Wismar.

“Twin Tuesday will be our Suicide Awareness Day,” said Hahn.

Wednesday Wear Green, “we hand out green ribbons,” said Kiley Youngberg. “Green represents sanity.”

“Colors can represent a variety of emotions,” depending on the group. Tie Dye Thursday is a reminder that it’s okay to express these emotions. Today’s mental health resource is calming strategies.

In keeping with Friday’s theme Mental Health Matters and Strategies to Support Others, courtesy of Principal Erika Alm, the group will bring together high school and elementary school students and spend some time bonding in the ‘afternoon.

On Friday, those who have them are encouraged to wear the mental health fundraising shirts available through Icyy Ink.

“We have decided to sell shirts with all proceeds benefiting local mental health organizations,” Allen said.

“We are hoping to help bring in a speaker to help address some of the things that have happened this year,” said Hahn. During this school year, two district students and two district teachers died.

“I know one of the children we lost,” Wimar said.

She said she came to school “shaken” and “in tears” the next day.

She wanted to do “anything we can do to help.”

“I really like helping people” Allen said. “If we could help someone change their mind about wanting to kill themselves…it would be worth it.”

The group has an impact.

Hahn said it “college lunch group” has ideas to share and wants to collaborate with AWWA.

“It’s going really well” Wimar said. “I kind of assumed that maybe we would have another person. Many children bottle up their emotions and don’t talk about them at all.

“I’ve noticed that the school is starting to get a lot lighter,” she says. “Everyone just backed off. We are ready to take a greater interest in our mental health.

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