Just what the doctor ordered: Peer Resource hosts a wellness event at Del Mar

Claire Silva

After over a year of chaos, stress and isolation, Del Mar Middle School students were in desperate need of connection. So with the help of Redwood’s Peer Resource (PR) class, they hosted a Wellness Day on Friday, Nov. 12, to decrease student pressure and connect students. PR is a class dedicated to promoting a stronger community at Redwood and within the surrounding county through mental and sexual health education. 

At the “Discovering through Coloring” table, students use their answers to friendship-focused questions to color a design and learn about conflict-resolution in relationships.

On Friday at lunch, PR traveled to Del Mar to set up various community-building stations for the middle-schoolers. While visiting the “Bubble Station,” Del Mar students focused on breathing, and at the “Positive Message” table, kids wrote appreciative notes to classmates. Additionally, physical activity was encouraged through Spikeball and four square. 

While Del Mar has led other community-building activities in the past, like Challenge Day, which provides a safe space for eighth-graders to share personal experiences or issues, this was its first official Wellness Day. Del Mar’s principal, Brian Lynch, reached out to PR and asked them to join in. His hope was to shift the typical teacher-student dynamic found at middle schools to a more peer-focused one. As Lynch has been an assistant principal at both Redwood and Tamalpais High School, he has noticed the effectiveness of older students interacting with younger ones. 

“Middle school [students] respond really well to older adolescents and young adults that come in. It’s easier to take in information, rather than adults just talking at them all the time,” Lynch said. “Having Peer Resource [here,] where everyone’s trained to educate the younger students, lined up exactly with what we are trying to do.”

Writing inspirational notes to friends, students at the “Positive Messages” table build connections with each other.

All Del Mar students were welcome to interact with PR students, and it was evident that they built bonds during the event. Madison Bishop, an eighth-grader, also found the event helpful. Learning from older students engaged her during Wellness Day and enhanced her excitement to attend Redwood.

“I think it’s super fun to have a break from all of the stressful classes. It’s nice to get out and socialize with new visitors. [PR] is a really great group of kids,” Bishop said. “I hope that we do these types of things once a trimester.”  

The event was well-liked by Del Mar’s student body, and by the end, students were reluctant to return to class. Positive messages in chalk covered the basketball courts, and many kids lingered behind to talk to PR members. The PR class noted the success of the event and hopes to return to Del Mar soon. PR student Katelyn McKnew was happy to see their positive impact on the middle-schoolers.

“When [support] comes from [older teens], it can have a greater impact, especially because a lot of middle schoolers look up to high schoolers. After COVID-19, it’s especially important [to support them] because [they] didn’t get that social interaction that [they] would have normally had. Del Mar having something like this is really special, and I am happy we got to be part of it,” McKnew said. 

Playing Peer Resource’s “Wheel of Questions,” eighth-graders share positive aspects of their day by answering questions that correlate to their spin.

Lynch hopes to continue these events because he noticed that the day sparked happiness among students. As the year progresses and pressure on students increases, wellness events will aim to provide students with new stress management skills. 

“We want to recognize that the last year and a half has been incredibly hard on all of us. With that, we’ve learned the need to make sure that everyone has the tools and knowledge to manage stress within their life,” Lynch said. “I’m so grateful to PR for coming and adding such great value to this day, and I believe that the day was incredibly valuable for our students.”