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SANDPOINT – Sandpoint High School students hosted a mental health walk for one of the last projects this school year.

Students in SMS’s Design for Change class spent some time in May, which was Mental Health Awareness Month, to plan a walk to increase mental health awareness in their school. A June 3 walk took participants from the high school to Travers Park.

“May was Mental Health Awareness Month and we wanted to have an effective and fun event to shed more light on mental health and its importance,” said SMS student Molly Palfini.

Design for Change is a student-led class that empowers students to use a process called “design thinking” to create activities and strategies to raise awareness and educate SMS students about the Sources of Power program. Sources of Strength is a program used to build resilience and focus on positive mental health, said seventh grade counselor Kendall Lang.

The design thinking process is a step-by-step process in which students brainstorm ideas, create solutions, implement the ideas/solutions, and then reflect on the solution to determine if the intended goal has been achieved. The process also helps students learn how to overcome obstacles they may encounter when planning to bring their ideas to life, such as planning and ensuring the smooth running of an event, say SMS students Sierra Todd-Murray and Ellie McDaniel.

“Proper definition of the schedule and processing of the daily schedule. We had to change the duration of classes, figure out how to free up classes for walking, and figure out how long it would take to walk,” Todd-Murray said.

“Organizing a walk and trying to figure out how to make it not chaotic,” McDaniel said.

Lang said that this year the Design for Change course was combined with the Sources of Strength program to promote positive mental health in SMS throughout the 21-22 school year.

However, the Design for Change class developed and ran a number of events and awareness campaigns throughout the school year, including a campaign to write positive reviews for friends, a random act of kindness, an 800 pound fundraiser for Better Together Animal Shelter , sponsoring a classroom door decorating contest showcasing what students are doing to promote mental health, mental health awareness walks, and more.

While planning was indeed challenging, the students and teachers involved in planning said the mental health walk was a success, with all SMS students participating as well as community and Sandpoint High School volunteers. Along with community volunteers, students said the event was well received by the community.

“Before the event, we set up signs, ribbons and chalked messages on the sidewalk. Two ladies who were walking in the park came up and said that what we were doing was very cool. They liked the posters when we explained what we were doing and they liked the nice messages along the way. We felt the success from the very beginning, knowing that two members of the community liked our work.” Todd-Murray said.

After the walk, the participating students were asked to complete a questionnaire about their experiences and thoughts. According to SMS student Mia Williamson, the positive feedback was a highlight.

“I enjoyed reading the reviews after the walk the most. Because it showed that kids really think about walking and I think it helped them,” Williamson said.

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