Long Branch High School was abuzz with excitement in April as the Brookdale Community College Global Citizenship Distinction (GCD) Program ended its year-long activities with an inspiring wellness workshop. Led by Director of International Education Center Dr. Janice Thomas and Professor of Psychology Dr. Raj Wesley and a team of dedicated GCD scholars, the event aimed to empower high school students with knowledge and tools to prioritize their well-being in today’s fast-paced world.

Welcoming them to the school was Ms. Nykeirah Jones, once Dr. Wesley’s student at Brookdale. “Witnessing her evolution into a dedicated Social Worker filled me with immense pride,” Wesley said. “Her diligent efforts orchestrated our visit seamlessly, allowing us to engage with students spanning various grades, from freshmen to seniors.”

The workshop kicked off with a warm welcome from GCD student Brilliza Jimenez, a Pre-Social Work major, who emphasized the global significance of wellness in our daily lives. Supported by a brief PowerPoint presentation, Jimenez set the stage for an engaging discussion on the importance of maintaining physical, mental, emotional, social, and intellectual health.

Morena Traditi, a graduating GCD scholar, then shared her insights on coping mechanisms for stress and the consequences of unhealthy habits. Her heartfelt message resonated with the diverse group of high school students, sparking meaningful conversations about personal wellness journeys.

A highlight of the workshop was a guided meditation session led by Benjamin Kuleshov a Computer Science major. As students closed their eyes and focused on their breath, a sense of calm filled the room, fostering a deeper connection to the present moment.

During the break, students refueled with snacks and engaged in hands-on activities, including creating vision boards and posters that reflected their individual interpretations of wellness. From serene nature scenes to personal affirmations, each artwork conveyed a unique perspective on holistic well-being.

“A young man drew himself shy and withdrawn at one corner of the chart, but then, he drew the beautiful blue ocean, and showed himself entering the water to surf: for him, that was a way of beating the blues to fight anxiety! Every piece of craft was very special,” noted Dr. Wesley. “It was amazing to see how these youngsters conceptualized different types of wellness, such as physical, mental, emotional, social, or intellectual.”

Drs. Thomas and Wesley and their team of GCD scholars circulated among the high school student groups, offering encouragement and guidance as students unleashed their creativity. The atmosphere was charged with positivity as students bonded over shared experiences and discovered new ways to prioritize self-care.

Behind the scenes, Kimberly Salinas, and her team, including Tim Guiney, Sergio Nino, and Galo Sanchez, worked tirelessly to ensure the workshop’s success, gathering supplies from various campus resources, the Wellness Center, the International Education Center, and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and assembling Brookdale swag bags for the participants. Their dedication and attention to detail were instrumental in creating a welcoming environment for all.

Reflecting on the day’s events, Dr. Wesley emphasized the importance of programs like GCD in nurturing young minds and fostering a sense of global awareness and responsibility. In an ever-changing world, educational experiences that promote holistic development are essential for empowering the next generation of leaders.

As the workshop ended, participants left with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of the importance of prioritizing wellness in their lives. Thanks to the dedication of the GCD scholars and the support of the Long Branch High School community, the workshop left a lasting impact on all who attended.

To learn more about the Global Citizenship Distinction at Brookdale please visit the website brookdalecc.edu/international/global-citizenship/global-distinction/