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Health and Wellness Program a Vital Component of O’Dowd’s Culture of Care

Health and wellness supports and programing at O’Dowd are some of the most important ways we build our culture of care. As a foundational initiative for addressing health and wellness issues on campus students, faculty and staff, and parents completed a school climate survey last year. The climate survey has empowered us with a robust data set to be responsive to the needs of our community. Supporting students in their social and emotional development, equipping faculty to teach to the whole child, and engaging parents as the primary educators of their children provides the framework for growth in a culture of care.

Health and wellness supports and programing are offered with three levels of care in mind, from the broad reach of community wide programing, to the specific needs of individual students. The first level provides a foundation where every student learns about a health and wellness issue that impacts our community. Our all school assemblies and our Safe Environment curriculum are examples of these universal supports. At the second level students have opportunities to address health and wellness issues that are relevant to a particular group. Our Dragon Talks provide a format that is responsive to student needs and creates a space for students to share their experience. Finally, we offer services to individual students, which include meeting with our school therapist or talking about personal issues with their counselor.

The fall semester featured a robust series of event that engaged our students, faculty and parent communities on multiple levels of support. In September, the senior class attended an educational presentation on substance use and abuse awareness and prevention. The presentation by Being Adept provided information about risks and harms and featured a speaker who shared his story of struggling with addiction and his journey to recovery. This presentation was followed by a parent event in the evening where parents learned about current trends in vaping, alcohol consumption, prescription and non-prescription drug use and marijuana use from a clinical expert and from a student panel. Parents were given tools to have conversations about substance use and abuse at home.

In October, the theme of Respect in Relationships for Health and Wellness Week placed a timely focus on affirmative consent and prevention of gender-based violence. A highlight of the week was the Date Safe Project Safer Choices assembly and the Help! My Teen is Dating parent event in the evening lead by Mike Domitrz, founder of the Date Safe Project. Students had the opportunity to take an honest and playful look at healthy dating, consent, sexual decision-making, bystander intervention, sexual assault awareness, and supporting sexual assault survivors. Parents had the opportunity to have a conversation about how to talk to their teenager about making healthy choices in relationships.

“O’Dowd parent education events have been incredible helpful in keeping me current on teen issues like vaping and consent. Because these events have a school/ student component that my son engages with and a parent focused event that I can participate in, we have a shared language and experience to connect around,”  O’Dowd parent Metra Vaba said.

Other special events during the week included campus Chaplain Fr. Jim Sullivan offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation in recognition of respect in our relationship with God and the Eco-Leaders and Green Dragons offering the opportunity for students to create sage bundles in recognition of respect in our relationships with the earth. Bay Area Women Against Rape also offered an informational presentation at MP on sexual assault, affirmative consent, and bystander intervention. The Counseling Department hosted fun lunchtime activities and provided support for students, and the Religion Department prepared lessons for the classroom.

In November, our community deepened conversations as about identity, race and trauma, as well as resilience, hope, and sacramentality with a presentation by Dr. Onaje X.O. Woodbine: Who’s Got Next? A Black Hoops Liberating Spirituality. This presentation was offered to all students in an assembly and to parents in a evening event. The presentation raised and respond to questions of identity and meaning through the lens of the black male experience playing basketball on the asphalt courts of urban Roxbury, on the wood parquet of Yale University and beyond.

The presentation was supported by our Drama department in working with students to bring the voices of the athletes honored in the presentation to life. In the classroom, the Social Studies, English, and Religion department faculty created lessons for students as a follow up to the assembly addressing the historical, developmental, and spiritual themes of the presentation.

Our robust Health and Wellness Program encompasses many other aspects of the student experience in our community of care. These three events provide a snapshot of the work that is being done over the course of a semester to provide meaningful social and emotional supports for academic achievement at O’Dowd.


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