RUMFORD — Tony Solis, health specialist for State of Maine Wellness Program, challenged Mountain Valley High School students to approach their wellness day with a “beginner’s mind.” A beginner’s mind approaches each situation like it’s the very first time. With that frame of reference, students can discard preconceived notions and start fresh.

“Throw out what you already know, open up your filter and think differently,” Solis challenged.

He reminded students that wellness has three prongs – fitness, mental and spiritual.

Solis explained, “People get caught up in fitness because it’s the simple one. People who look the best have genetics going for them or they worked very hard at the expense of other things. It doesn’t mean they are well — maybe don’t deal with the other two prongs as well.”

His message was received. Sophomore Kenzie Jones said, “In general, I learned to be healthy isn’t only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.”

After the keynote address, students attended sessions ranging from healthy relationships to nutrition to sexual assault to Zumba. Each student enjoyed different sessions, learned different lessons and made a commitment based on what they learned.

Sophomore Alex Ridley said, “My favorite presentation was the fitness talk [Solis did a breakout session] because we learned about mindfulness and we learned about some key things in life.”

Solis connected with other students. Sophomore Ben Marston added, “He connected with us and told us about his life.”

Senior Elizabeth Adley liked the nutrition session. She said, “The smoothies were great!”

Several students listed the Zumba session as a favorite.

“It was fun,” said sophomore Brooke Sweetser.

Senior Brittany Wakefield liked it because a 50-something teacher danced.

At the end of the day, the students learned many life lessons.

Sophomore Kaleb Gatchell said that he learned to “enjoy the small things.”

“Limits are an illusion,” added sophomore Eric Gaelan Thomas. “It’s you who makes them, not other people.”

Senior Andrew Boucher was intrigued with the notion of mindfulness. He learned “to be mindful of life and my course of action.”

In terms of commitments based on lessons learned, seniors Trenton Virgin and Paul Merrill said they committed to “being healthy.”

Senior Karissa Murphy committed to “make better life choices on a daily basis.”

Two sophomores heard the message that they could do anything that they set their mind to.

Hannah Koch said, “I’ll commit to getting every single trick in gymnastics.”

Similarly, Police Explorer Alyssa Hemingway committed to being “able to do take-downs at our next training.”

Not all students made commitments about their personal well-being. Sophomore Alanna McGinty learned about mental health and the “backwards reasoning of our laws.” She committed to “watch for things and ask if the person’s okay.”

In addition to planning the entire event, the Peer Helpers presented a session on healthy relationships. After playing brief video clips, they encouraged discussion about warning signs of unhealthy relationships, with a particular focus on technology.

Peer Helpers include Corbin Arsenault, Katie Collette, Ryley Flynn, Claudia Gallant, Caleb Gauvin, J. T. Greene, Ellie Hall, Shannon Laubauskas, Josh Maillet, Dalton Milledge, Katie Mills, Natasha Munzner, Abby Parent, Tucker Phelps, Kayla Pingree, Abbey Pinkham, Katie Puiia, Jordan True, Jordyn Turner, Kaitlyn Virgin, Brittany Wakefield and Ashlynn Young.


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