Stress Less Week at Poe Middle School

By Pallavi Rudraraju, VA Middle School Program Coordinator

Photos courtesy of Ha Nguyen

You may not know it, but May, in addition to being APAHM – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Thanks to the support of Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, for the first two weeks of May, Poe Middle School AALEADers hosted a youth-led Stress Less Week for their peers at school.

The goal of this week is to help our youth learn about mental health challenges, stereotypes as well as stigmas, and to empower youth to take control of their mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, only 8.6 percent of Asian-Americans sought any type of mental health services or resource compared to nearly 18 percent of the general population nationwide. This project will help in educating our youth and openly discussing the reasons why there is a stigma and through this understanding increase their awareness of supportive resources. 

We had a blast participating in educational and fun activities to help us learn about and relieve stress. The best part of our Stress Less Week is that it was entirely planned out, researched, and implemented by our Poe AALEAD youth! 

  • For our first day of Stress Less Week, Eric S. facilitated a “Myths vs. Facts” contest so we could all learn more about mental health issues. Did you know that people of all ages can be affected by mental illness? 
  • For our second day, we learned about the effects of physical activity on stress relief through a youth-led presentation. Afterward, youth spent a couple of hours constructing, filling, and decorating their own piñatas!

    Richard M. and Katie W. carefully decorate their piñata after stuffing them with candy

  • Our third day of Stress Less Week centered on Yoga & Meditation. Prior to our yoga and meditation session, youth presented on the history and modern-day popularity of these beneficial South Asian practices.

AALEAD youth practiced yoga after learning about the origins and benefits of yoga and meditation.

  • On our last day of learning, youth facilitated stress-relieving stations so we could all practice different stress-relief methods ranging from coloring stations, emotional identification and release, and breathing techniques. 
  • Finally, to celebrate our two weeks of less stress, we broke our three piñatas outside. Check out that swing!

We would like to recognize the funding by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board as a program of the Northern Virginia Suicide Prevention Plan, made possible by a grant from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services; which enables our AALEADers to plan out this Stress Less Weeks holistically!


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