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CPS, Joe Burrow Foundation Celebrate World Teen Mental Health Day

World Teen Mental Wellness Day is recognized every March to raise awareness of mental health struggles and identify resources and solutions. CPS students are gathering to celebrate throughout the month, and this year’s activities are supported by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

The Joe Burrow Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on helping children with mental illness, joined forces with bi3 and Interact for Health to provide 53 Greater Cincinnati schools with grants to coordinate mental wellness events and programming.

Eight CPS schools, including Riverview East Academy, successfully applied to receive $500 in funding to plan, create and lead events that engage students and promote mental wellness. 

“I’m just so excited to see how bought in the students are,” Riverview East Principal Rebecca Wolf said. “They really feel like this is relevant to their lives.”

Wall of Positivity!Wolf said Riverview East has a different theme each month, and March is all about motivation. 

Riverview East used the funding to put on a mental wellness carnival with a focus on social anxiety. Students learned about and tested anxiety-coping devices, participated in icebreakers to help meet new people and enjoyed games with prizes.

Wolf said that raising awareness of and normalizing conversations around mental health is one of the biggest advantages of social media, and she’s encouraged by Riverview East students opening up and growing together.

“Students are way more comfortable and open to talking about their struggles and seeking out support,” Wolf said. “It really helps students to see not only adults that they can go to but other students.”

Riverview East is also the first CPS school with an official Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention and mental wellness training program.

“It’s important for students and teenagers to know there’s nothing wrong with having mental issues,” Riverview East and Hope Squad member Dana Blum said. “We just want to help and make them feel like they’re not alone.”

In addition to Riverview East, the following schools received the same World Teen Mental Wellness Day funding: Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies, Aiken High School, Clark Montessori High School, Lighthouse School, Shroder High School, Walnut Hills High School and Woodward Career Technical High School. Other activities included visits from a therapy dog and a meditation specialist, an interactive poster competition and chair yoga sessions.

Wolf hopes that students walk away knowing all the resources in place and people they can go to if they’re struggling mentally or emotionally.

“I love it, I live for this sort of thing,” Wolf said. “I’m just really excited to continue to grow this.”