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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Wellness Center supports student mental health

HELPING HAND  Chris Saporitio (right) speaks with Peer Helper Emilia Esselyn.

   The bell rings and instead of an adrenaline rush from a victorious football game or clamorous laughter from a joke told in the hallway, a student is overwhelmed with anxiety. For some, it may be anger, exhaustion, or culmination of stressful emotions that takes a toll on their wellbeing. No matter the emotion or the severity of the issue, a small room nestled in a corridor awaits anyone needing a place to unwind. The Wellness Center, located in Room B144, aims to create a safe space for students, encouraging positivity in both mental and emotional health. 

   Striving to implement the support students requested for in surveys prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Wellness Center Coordinator Chris Saporito devotes a majority of his time to operate the center. 

   “It is a completely full-time commitment,” Saporito remarked with a quiet laugh. “We are busy all the time so it’s important that every student is seen and cared for.” 

   The bustle of the Wellness Center is apparent walking in, but the room remains calm and relaxing despite its popularity. Soft meditation music plays in the background and the hectic noise from lunchtime is all but hushed inside the room. However, the center provides much more than just a warm atmosphere. 

   With twenty minutes allotted per visit, students are given the opportunity to spend time alone during school hours. Instead of facing large crowds or stressful lectures, students are able to spend their time wrapped up by cozy weighted blankets, accompanied by comfortable chairs and a large sofa. Positive affirmations are strung along the walls of the center along with helplines and pamphlets, reassuring students of their importance. 

   “Having a space for students to just have a safe space to land is super important,” stated Saporito with a small smile underneath his mask, given away only by the crinkled corners of his eyes. “The Wellness Center also incorporates all the therapy services offered [at school], along with helping students connect to professional therapy support if needed.” 

   The harrowing cesspools of anxiety, sadness, and confusion are alleviated with the Wellness Center’s availability for students to speak to others, allowing them to reach out without facing judgement.

   Saporito is not alone in the effort to highlight student emotional needs. Along with therapy, counseling has been a key service provided by the Wellness Center. With Saporito’s previous counseling experience, he is joined by five counseling interns: Bonnie Chan, Brittney Gordan, Logan Kim, Jessica Ortiz, and Celeste Toloza.

   “We really care about the students first and foremost. It is really important for me and the other interns to let students know that it is important for them to be who they are,” shared Kim. “If anything, I wish we could meet with even more students.”   

   For those seeking support from peers, the Wellness Center also offers this through their collaboration with the peer helping elective. With staff dedicated to counseling and guidance, the Wellness Center is able to focus on helping students function at school unhindered. 

      “[Operating the center is] exhausting, rewarding, and amazing all at once,” stated Saporito with a smile. 

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About the Contributor
Brian Ly
Brian Ly, Production Chief
Brian Ly is the Production Chief for the Tongva Times and is entering his fourth year with the paper. In his personal life, Brian has a keen interest in insects, collectible card games, books, and movies. He even aspires to raise his own "Gregor Samsas" when he finds the right environment. Interestingly, Brian initially joined the newspaper in his freshman year, mistaking it for a history class due to the presence of a textbook. Despite the unexpected start, he remained with the Tongva Times, drawn by the strong sense of community and the chance to interact with diverse individuals, from school athletes to the mayor of San Gabriel.
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