Fresh Check Day: It's More Than Just Barn Babies And Free T-Shirts

Fresh Check Day: It's More Than Just Barn Babies And Free T-Shirts

"Checkin'-in with college students" - Learn about mental health and wellness through an amazing experience!
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Fresh Check Day is the signature program of the Jordan Porco Foundation (JPF). JPF is fully committed to preventing suicide, promoting mental health, creating a message of hope, encouraging help-seeking behavior and self-care. Their goal is to educate young adults about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and other mental health concerns; this message of hope is spread throughout college campuses.

I had the amazing opportunity of not only attending Fresh Check Day, but also participating in it here at Stonehill College. I'm part of Stonehill College's Psychology Society. Being a Psychology major, I was automatically drawn to this club, but I never knew it'd give me the incredible experience of running a table on Fresh Check Day.

Our table focused on the topic of "the elephant in the room," also known as what people don't usually like to share. We discussed how important it is to end the stigma that surrounds talking about "the elephant in the room," or your personal struggle with mental health. You're not alone and we want everyone to know this.

We did more than simply discuss this topic. We did an activity with paper elephants that allowed students to anonymously write their own "elephant in the room."

The workers of the table then proceeded to hang up all of the paper elephants around the booth, showing the different things that people wrote down. You could walk around the booth to see what others wrote and I bet you found a paper elephant that had the same thing written as yours. You don't have to go through anything by yourself.

#EndTheStigma

Our booth also had a positive uplifting vibe to it, thanks to our guest, Ellie the elephant! Ellie definitely gave students a sense of comfort while thinking of what to write.

Along with my experience of personally working a table and having the opportunity to send a message of hope to others while trying to end this stigma, Fresh Check Day is made up of so much more.

Other clubs around campus also participated by having their own tables which surrounded the quad. Each one consisted of their own message and activity. They varied from the dangers of alcohol to steps on how to conquer stress. Free coloring pages were given, diagrams, stress balls, information and much more! While enjoying a stress relieving day, you're also learning at the same time on how to help yourself and others.

What's more stress relieving than petting therapy dogs and cuddling with baby farm animals?

Other students who had the opportunity of working a table at Fresh Check Day only had positives to share as well:

"Everybody has an 'elephant in their room', or something they may go through that they may not feel comfortable discussing with others. But they should realize that they are never alone and that it's OK to talk." - Jessica Infiorati, Stonehill College 2019 (Psychology Society Publicity Coordinator)

"At Fresh Check Day this year, I worked the table for Health At The Hill. We had students write down one reason why they want to stay alive. I feel like it was such a good reminder of all the things we have to look forward to and all the things we have to be grateful for. Sometimes we get caught up in the business of life and stress can overwhelm us, but just taking five minutes to realize all we have that makes life so wonderful can go such a long way." - Alyssa Cristadoro, Stonehill College (Health At The Hill Secretary)

The students who worked the booths are not the only ones who received benefits and happiness from this event. Delighted and pleased comments were heard by everyone who attended:

"Admittedly, I only went to Fresh Check Day for a t-shirt, but I left with so much more. The entire event was extremely relaxing and completing the activities was extremely refreshing because it gave you the opportunity to overall spread happiness for yourself and others. It was a rewarding experience and I feel the event should happen more often on campus because of the benefits associated with it." - Matt Mullen, Stonehill College 2019

"Fresh Check Day is a wonderful opportunity for students to become comfortable with talking about mental health, which is super important on college campuses. The cute animals are just a plus!" - Heather Thibeau, Stonehill College 2019

The goals of Fresh Check Day aren't only said, but they're fully experienced when you attend. Some include:

- Increase awareness of mental health resources and services available to students

- Reduce stigma and misconceptions around mental health and suicide that often deter individuals from seeking help

- Empower peers to be gatekeepers by understanding warning signs and knowing what to do if a friend is exhibiting signs of suicide or a mental health concern

- Increase willingness to ask for help if experiencing emotional distress

Only inspiring and encouraging words were said regarding Fresh Check Day and the true meaning behind it. It provided many students with information about resources, services, stress relief and so much more while having an unforgettable time!

Cover Image Credit: Self

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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An Open Letter To The Person Feeling Everything Is Too Much

The strongest people to exist struggle the most.

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Hey, you.

I heard through the grapevine that life's got you in the dumps. You're feeling overwhelmed by your surroundings, stressed by your responsibilities, sensitive to the things that people are saying; everything just feels like it is too much. It almost feels like you're stuck in a room filling up with water. You know that the door opens, but you're numbed by the circumstances; you can't get yourself to take hold of that handle, so you just stand there, frozen in time. You feel the water rising up around your body, and with every inch it gains, you get even more overwhelmed. Maybe the water flooding in contains your schoolwork, your family dynamic, your drama within your friend group, your relationship status, internal anger about who you are or aren't, or hell, maybe all of these.

You feel like life is throwing rogue waves at you left and right, and you can't understand it. Why is this happening to me? Why is life trying to break me?

Well, let me tell you something that has taken me years to even grasp, let alone fully understand.

The strongest people to exist struggle the most. They are given some of the most intricately woven issues that may not have a black and white solution but live somewhere within the gray. Things pile up and upon them until everything feels like too much. And you know what they do, the strongest people to exist?

They break.

They stand there, trapped in that water-filling room, and let the water seep in. They don't open that door, they don't take the easy way out. They stand there, thinking about what is being thrown at them, not knowing what to do. They let the water overwhelm them, completely filling the room. And right when they feel that they can't take this anymore, like everything is too much, the door breaks... they break. The strongest become the weakest as they float out of the room, carried by the rushing water filled with their burdens. They lay washed up on the shore, weaker than ever... broken and cracked, frozen and numbed by life.

While they lay there broken and numb, weakness does something so immaculate and beautiful: it settles into the brokenness and the cracks like fresh, fertile soil, planting the seeds of wisdom and strength. Over time as it continues to rain, wisdom and strength grow throughout their bones like vines, making them even stronger than they were before they got trapped in that room before they broke. The strongest people to exist break frequently, so that room can be made for more love, more strength, and more wisdom than imaginable.

Now you may be thinking, why this analogy? What are you getting at?

I want you to know, and read this closely: it is okay to break. It's okay to let everything feel like it's too much because you know what? Sometimes it is, it just is. Sometimes, you have to just stand there, and let yourself feel. Let it explode and wash over you. Let it leave you cracked. Once the explosion has ridden its course. analyze the broken pieces you feel inside. Look at them individually and try to find the root of that feeling. Finding the knowledge behind that feeling means that you now know how to fight back. So you know what you do? You piece yourself back together, slowly but surely, using wisdom as the glue, and you come back stronger than ever before.

You have to break before you can grow. Let yourself feel, feel all of it. Break and be grown anew.

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