In a high-stress environment like college, it’s important to take a step back and ask, “Am I well — physically, mentally, emotionally? And if not, how do I take care of myself?”
That’s what Colorado School of Mines’ second annual Fresh Check Day provided. The March 1 event offered information and activities that examined different aspects of wellness, to remind them how to take care of themselves and look out for each other, organizers explained.
“I love this,” sophomore Elizabeth Sandoval said of Fresh Check Day. “I hope they keep it going. … It’s this nice little boost of positivity in the day.”
Inside the student rec center, volunteers hosted a dozen booths regarding physical health, body positivity, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, veterans services, sexual assault survivorship, LGBTQ+ inclusivity, suicide prevention and more.
Colleges across the country host Fresh Check Day events, although Mines’ is relatively new.
Bryttani Watson and Emma Griffis of the Department of Student Wellness Promotion described how they’d hoped to do the event for years, after Griffis helped run it at Red Rocks Community College.
COVID-19 delayed the launch, but the department finally held the inaugural one last May, which was right before finals. More than 150 students participated, and organizers felt the event would be better earlier in the semester, so students would have more time to participate.
The two said they hope students learn “self-care tips and skills before crises happen” so they can support others and themselves. It also helps the students get connected with on-campus organizations.
One example was the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, which was hosting the Follow Your Art booth. Students stopped by to add to large group paintings and/or paint individual ones.
James Lende, a senior at the fraternity, described how creating art has therapeutic benefits, such as being a source of relaxation and providing an outlet for self-expression. He knows several students on campus who are artists and run small-scale art events, like Bob Ross paint nights.
Overall, Lende really liked the event, saying, “People can express themselves for a few minutes between classes.”
Juniors Adam Carranco and Katherine Tran attended with friends after seeing the event announcement in the Mines Daily Blast. Carranco said the physical workout station was his favorite, describing how they did about five minutes of squats and stretches to get their heart rates up. Tran, meanwhile, liked the fishing game at the 9 Out Of 10 booth, which focused on suicide prevention and establishing a support system among students.
“We have a lot of online trainings about this stuff … but doing it in person helps solidify it in your mind,” Carranco said of Fresh Check Day.
Tran added how, in a high-stress environment like Mines, it’s easy to miss the signs that someone needs help. So, this helped reinforce the message to take care of oneself and be there for each other, she and Carranco said.
Three years later…
This month marks three years since Colorado implemented COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns to prevent the spread and potentially save lives. However, the measures also disrupted everyone’s lives and routines, especially students.
Carranco, Tran and Lende described how they were all living on campus when the shutdowns happened, and everyone was sent home.
Lende recalled how, at that time, he finally felt like he’d found the place he belonged. Then, seemingly overnight, all his friends were gone. So, he and his friends worked to maintain their relationships long-distance, which was a challenge.
Carranco and Tran said they knew people who struggled with depression during that time, as they were isolated from everyone and everything they knew.
Over time, the situation improved. Students had outdoor or online events, they recalled, and classes eventually resumed with masks and social distancing.
While things are relatively back to normal now, Tran and Carranco said, it was harder for some students to make connections and meet people during that time.
Lende found some normalcy by planning events with his friends, emphasizing the importance of bringing people together and creating a culture of support. He said he’s found that with his fraternity brothers and other friends.
He thinks Mines’ culture has improved since he was a freshman but still has some room for improvement.
“We need to build more community,” Lende said. “… We all have feelings, and everyone needs an outlet. … Too many people try to do things alone.”