- Darya Filippova
Club Spotlight: Penguin Minds Really Do Matter
A Penguin Minds Matter meeting last month / Credits: Darya Filippova
Many Walls students value the school’s academic rigor, but struggle with its accompanying stress. Last year, a group of students created Penguin Minds Matter (PMM) to “engage, empower, and educate students on topics surrounding mental health.”
PMM is affiliated with Our Minds Matter (OMM), a program that trains student leaders to promote healthy school environments and advocate for youth mental health.
Senior Sydny Horge, PPM’s treasurer, explained why she helped start the club. “When I first learned about Our Minds Matter, I was immediately eager to help start the first mental health club at Walls,” Horge said.
She acknowledges that many Walls students face similar stressors and personal struggles but do not know what resources are available to them. PMM aims to bridge this gap.
Lori McDowell, the school’s psychologist, chose to sponsor the club after she “saw the work the members were putting in … I wanted to support them as much as possible.”
“Students have better ideas in ways to reach each other that adults don’t even think about,” said Dr. McDowell. “We are at Walls, and with all that embedded stress, students should know they are not alone, they should know that they are supported, and have the resources they need.”
PMM offers community service hours, a chance to make new friends and thoughtful discussions on mental health. Member Ayele Gousseva initially joined the club for the service hours, but grew to appreciate its community. “The club offered a safe space to feel my emotions without the judgment of peers or without the competitive energy often circulating around Walls,” she said.
Gousseva recommends the club for everyone, especially underclassmen. “A lot of the younger students are getting to know the Walls environment and the competitiveness can be a lot,” she said, “so to have a place where the pretentiousness is dropped, even if it's just one morning of a week, can be a true relief.”
During its Wednesday morning meetings, the club holds stress relief activities to help students prepare for the school day. Near Halloween, the club sponsored pumpkin painting, which allowed students to relax and meet members in other grades. The club also plans to host fundraisers to support local mental health charities and organizations.
PMM meets weekly on Wednesday mornings at 8:30 a.m.