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Wellness Fair Will Target Health of West Hartford Teens

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The free Community of Concern event will feature a variety of activities, food, music, and important mental health training.

By Keith Griffin

The phrase “wellness fair” brings to mind health practitioners targeting the medical maladies of grownups. West Hartford Community of Concern is targeting a different demographic: teens. The group is holding a first-ever Teen Wellness Fair from 1 to 4 p.m., March 23, at Hall High School.

The fair, which is free and open to teens, as well as parents and caregivers, features a variety of activities including food, music, games, prizes, art, movement activities, and more, along with school and community resources.

“We know that teens are dealing with a lot of stress and pressures. The earlier you can learn how to take care of yourself in ways you can balance your life and get some coping skills, it helps you,” said Rebekah Seaton, a Conard parent who is coordinating the event along with a committee of seven. West Hartford Community of Concern is a joint PTO committee of the town’s high schools and middle schools.

Seaton said the wellness fair will give students prevention tools. “We know they are dealing with a lot. It’s a good way to show kids we care,” she said.

One lifesaving tool being shared is QPR training. Kelly Waterhouse, LCSW, a social worker for the town’s Department of Social Services, is the facilitator. She explained QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer and is designed to help train anyone in how to recognize warning signs of someone who may be in crisis or at risk for suicide and how they can help. She added, “The QPR training will help people understand the verbal, situational, and behavioral signs of suicide and provides some coaching in how to intervene with the person and connect them with supports. I’m very excited to offer this training this weekend because it is paired with a wellness fair where participants will be able to learn about a lot of the various supports that those in need could connect to.”

Waterhouse added, “To me, it is especially valuable to train teens, because developmentally, they often turn to each other, as opposed to parents or other adults and sometimes their peers may think that they need to keep their secrets or fear betrayal or breaking the friendship, but what their friends often need is professional help. We know with the pandemic that we’ve seen an increase in mental and behavioral health needs across the board, especially in youth, so gaining skills in how to handle potential crises and knowledge of the resources that are out there to help is the proactive thing to do – even if parents think their child is doing OK, their child’s friends may not be.”

Seton said pulled together a lot of activities that might catch the attention of a variety of kids with different interests. There will be henna tattoos, a therapy dog, prize drawings, music, yoga, fitness training with the police department, and games, including video gaming. Her son told her people who might want to come out will decompress by playing video games and benefit from learning about other things taking place. “Your whole community has all these people who are interested in your well-being and have different ways of engaging and supporting you,” Seton added.

Another special element of the wellness fair is an art show. A call went out to student artists around town who wanted to create art around the theme of “Taking Care of Your Mind, Heart and Body.” Seton said, “That piece is going to be special because the students’ work relates to wellness, and it’s a chance for them to express their experience around that.” Each piece will have an artist’s statement that conveys what they’re trying to explain. Sixteen pieces have been submitted, including a poem, digital art, paintings, and drawings.

Admission is free. However, participants are asked to register ahead of time. Register for the event here.

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