PEWAUKEE — Students in Pewaukee High School’s Insight Elements of Health and Medicine program have been working hard the past few months to produce a product that would improve the health or well-being of others. Four of those students took their project to the next level by inviting the entire Pewaukee community to get involved.
Owen Hake, Katie McCormick, Ella Monday and Dana Wolkomir are putting on Beach Balance, a free community event on Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to noon at Pewaukee Lake Beach, to provide a day of physical and mental well-being to the public. The students noticed a lack of physical and mental health resources in the Pewaukee area. And though their own high school has provided them with a number of resources including onsite psychologists, a therapy dog and programs, they found that there is a lack of access in the community.
"What we hope that the event does is not only give everyone resources to figure out how to treat mental health or how to prevent a bigger crisis, but we also hope that people have a sense of community after they leave, which is kind of the most important thing because we want to bring everyone together," said Monday.
The students called some local businesses and had meetings with organizations including Rogers Behavioral Health, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, in hopes that they would donate their time and resources to the event.
Reaching Treetops Yoga will be providing sessions every hour on the hour throughout the duration of the event, Venture Wellness will be handing out samples to promote health through nutrition, Stein’s Garden and Home donated seed packets for people to plant plants, Rogers will have a booth filled with resources, there will be a craft booth and more.
The community and school have been very supportive of the four students organizing the event, and even their peers have stopped them in the hallways to share their excitement and let them know they will be attending.
“When teenagers and young kids take a stand to do something that they’re passionate about, you get lots of positive feedback,” said McCormick.
Along with the sense of community the event provides, the students, who are all interested in health care, acknowledged the importance of promoting mental health resources. All of them have either been personally impacted or have known someone who was having mental health issues, and in learning about the lack of resources available to the community, they gained a larger understanding of the issue.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone come together and everyone of all age groups participate in the event. To see a greater impact around the entire community would be fantastic,” said Wolkomir.
Saturday will be Hake’s first yoga experience, and even though he says he’s not very flexible, he’s excited for his first experience to be on a beach during the sunrise. “I think that’s going to be very beautiful to see while I’m doing yoga,” he said.
The project stems from the students’ Insight Elements of Health and Medicine class — a program juniors and seniors can participate in. The students apply their sophomore and junior years and go through a series of interviews before being accepted into the program that will help them further their interest in health care careers.
The students are in the class for three hours every day all year long. In the fall the students take courses at Waukesha County Technical College to become certified nursing assistants; they take a science course called Medical Interventions that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatments of disease; they take a math class focusing on data collection practices and the analysis of data to draw conclusions; they participate in health and medical clinicals with a mentor in a career area of their interest; and they work on a series of independent projects.
The students in the program are currently working on their end-of-the-year project. According to Lauren Coleman, coordinator of the Insight Elements of Health and Medicine program, some students are working on 3D printing assistive devices for people with limb loss or other mobility issues; other students created a care closet in every building in the district stocked with food, hygiene supplies and clothing for students to take home with them; and then there’s Beach Balance.
“We’re just really proud of the students and the work that they’ve done this year, especially these four,” said Coleman. “They’ve really taken this task and this project to the next level, to a larger scale, and we’re really proud of the work they’ve done. We feel really lucky to have the support of our administration, the community and the district to be able to do these kinds of outside-the-box type of work with our students to hopefully make a difference in their lives and our community.”