Student Samantha Pineda finds calm with her mindfulness jar at Indio High’s wellness academy.

As rates of stress, depression, and teen suicide have soared in the past decade, the Health and Nutritional Sciences (HANS) Academy at Indio High is piloting a new curriculum called Mindfully Resilient. Units in anger management, the science of stress, anxiety, depression, healthy relationships and more are taught to bring mental health awareness and education to over 100 teens in the HANS Academy. The goal is to raise awareness about mental health and provide teens with coping skills to deal with life’s mental health challenges.

Senior Samantha Pineda talks about her experience in Mindfully Resilient:

As a senior in high school, the reality of graduation is settling in and many of us are feeling stressed about this. One of my favorite courses this year is my HANS class. One of the lessons I apply to my life every day is the breathing techniques we’ve been taught through our meditation sessions. I’ve learned to relax and live in the moment through breathing properly. I’ve learned in this class how we can positively impact others, so I take these mindful techniques home to my family and they even share them with their friends.

We also have a difficult weekly tradition with workout Wednesdays with  a yoga session during class. Some weeks we even have guest instructors who volunteer their time to come to our school and teach yoga.

One of my favorite activities from class is my ‘mindfulness jar.’ A mindfulness jar is literally a mason jar filled with sand and water. Although this jar may seem basic, it represents much more. When the sand settles and the water is clear, you can see right through the jar. When the jar is shaken and the water is murky, you can’t see anything. This is like your mood and mind when you are upset and aren’t thinking clearly. You need to “let your sand settle” so you won’t do anything rash and regret it later. Just shaking the jar when you’re upset feels so satisfying. We did this activity in our anger management unit where we’re being taught how to identify and manage our anger.

I’ve only just touched on a few things from class, but I’m grateful for all I’ve learned and am eager and enthusiastic to see what’s to come during the rest of the school year.

For more information on the Indio High Health and Nutritional Science Academy (HANS), contact Jason Tate at [email protected].

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