Tina Madeleine leads a Pound Class to teach kids to alleviate stress through music and physical activity.

Tina Madeleine leads a Pound Class to teach kids to alleviate stress through music and physical activity.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

First ‘Winter Wellness Night’ hosted at Fraser High School

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published March 6, 2023


FRASER — Mental health among young people is an ever-growing concern. The students of the Fraser Be Nice Club took steps to try and address it with their first-ever Winter Wellness Night.

Taking place at Fraser High School on Feb. 24, the Be Nice Club invited the community in to speak about the various resources available and to learn different techniques that could help address issues such as stress and depression.

“We are having an event for our community to be able to provide different coping strategies for our mental health,” said Heidi Impellizzeri, the Fraser High School social worker who advises the club. “We are covering all areas of mental health and wellness. This includes spiritual and physical needs. We have a pound class where you bang sticks to music, coloring stations, food, hot chocolate, therapy dogs and eight massage therapists are giving massages.”

The club began earlier this year after its four founding members attended a Michigan Youth Leadership Conference. Adriana Barney, one of the Be Nice Club’s advisory board members, said that as a result they wanted to make a difference in their community.

“All four of the board members (of the Fraser Be Nice Club) attended a conference back in May for Michigan Youth Leadership and at the conference; we felt so empowered that we wanted to come back to Fraser and do something,” said Barney. “We weren’t sure what, but we talked with our counselor and the school social worker and started this club earlier this year.”

Impellizzeri believes that winter is a great time to put such an event on since it can be the hardest and bleakest time of the year for many people.

“Winter can be tough on mental health because it’s really easy to get into the blues. It’s a good time to inspire people to find ways to brighten things up and take stock,” she said. “We have CARE (of Southeastern Michigan) here. All Things Possible, which is a mental health counseling service, is here, too. We have one of the Lutheran churches here. It’s all done by volunteer work so nothing came out of the budget to put this on. Our Career Technical Education program did put in some money, but that’s about it.”

“I think it’s very important for people to know their community resources,” added Barney. “Community is important for mental health because knowing that people are going through the same things you are going through, or seeing that there are people struggling, can make a difference. You can feel less alone knowing those resources are there.”

Barney said that mental health is such an overwhelming topic when discussing the needs of teens, but that makes it all the more important to address it directly.

“Not only are student-led organizations important because you build skills and we connect with our peers, but mental health is a very large issue that is impacting youth,” she said. “It is unfortunate, but by starting this we can help people and make a difference for people at our school.”

Among those giving out information and informing people about community resources that evening was Kirsten Murphy, a youth advocate for Family Youth Interventions in Mount Clemens.

“We’re representing our agency here tonight and spreading the word that we exist and we have services to provide,” she said. “We serve ages 12-24. It’s free. We’re based in Mount Clemens and we provide resources to run away and homeless youth.”

More information about the organization is available at familyyouth.com.

Murphy was incredibly impressed that the Fraser students of the Be Nice Club decided to host such an event.

“I think it’s awesome they are putting a program like this on,” she said. “Mental health right now is pretty terrible, especially for youths. I love that there’s a big push for this sort of programming in schools right now since it’s the hub for young people.”

Her hope was that those in attendance would find something that helped them and that those who couldn’t make it would be encouraged to reach out for aid.

“I hope people find some good coping and calming skills,” Murphy said. “They have a lot of stuff here for activities. I hope they can take that knowledge home knowing that they can make things a little better by painting something on their face or making a stress ball. I am glad they might have some places they can call that they can get information on tonight if they need to reach out to someone.”

Fraser High School counselor Stacy Kalpin said Winter Wellness Night was a big hit and something she thinks is exactly what the community needed.

“Our kids’ reason to do this was because they knew that community was really important in helping people with their mental health,” said Kalpin. “Being around others and having fun is a big part of addressing a lot of these issues. We’re giving people resources that they can go use, they can have some fun tonight — we’re telling them resources they can follow up with.”