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A New Perspective: "Stress Less, Live More."

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I'm sure many adults can say they experience stress on a weekly, if not daily basis. But they're not the only ones... our kids are too.

I'm sure many of us adults can say we experience stress on a weekly, if not daily basis. But we're not the only ones... our kids are too.

Numerous statistics suggest kids in America are experiencing stress at new levels.

That's why a group of upperclassmen at Leland Public Schools are training themselves to help younger peers through a program called Natural Helpers.

"We chose nine different activities that we thought personally for us were ways that could help us relieve stress," said Natalie Hagstrom, Junior at Leland Public Schools and Natural Helpers, 2 yrs.

The event is called "Stress Less, Live More" and some activities students got to enjoy included yoga, the tasting room, aromatherapy, coloring and playing with puppies.

"I bake a lot when I'm stressful," said Hagstrom. "So I have my mother coming in actually helping other people cook. Then there's like sports."

"Yeah, sports- that's how I relieve and I know a lot of other kids relieve stress," said Gerardo Vasquez, Junior at Leland Public Schools and Natural Helpers, 3 yrs. "So we try to think of the more broader ideas of how people can manage stress."

But how do life's hardships affect kids and teens?

Statistics show suicide among adolescents has quadrupled since the 1950's and in the past decade, using pharmaceuticals to treat emotional disorders has shot up 68-percent for girls and 30-percent for boys. -Greatschools.org

"A lot of times the stress comes out in different ways for kids," said Heather Lowe, Leland Public Schools Counselor. "Stress is not just something that's apparent and visible. It will come out in different things such as "mom I have an upset stomach" or "I don't want to go to school today."

But Heather says when kids are going through something, parents aren't usually the first ones they run to.

That's where Natural Helpers steps in.

"With Natural Helpers, I've been able to talk to younger kids," said Vasquez. "They've actually come up to me and asked for advice and sometimes I give it to them but they're in that stage where they don't know whether to confront me or not because of the age difference. But this Natural Helpers is closing that gap I think a little bit more."

The peer-to- peer program is done nationwide and Leland has been apart of it since the 1970's doing yearly training with professional organizations.

"We make sure we train kids from all different levels, all different groups within the school," said Lowe. "So it's not just the kids that are in NHS or the kids that are, you know, the leaders in the school or kids that are the sports kids. It's kids across the board so everyone feels like there's someone that they can go to that they trust."

"Bad things are gonna happen," said Andy Thibodeau, Impact Presentations Guest Speaker. "You're going to be wrong in a class. People are going to get ill. You're going to get cut from the team. It's how you handle it that's the difference, right? And if you don't take it so personally if you're not so hard on yourself that's where stress relief comes."

After students left each room at the "Stress Less, Live More" event, they got to choose a bracelet that explains how that room's exercise made them feel.

Students in "Natural Helpers" at Leland say the program reaches beyond those in their school.

They say they've been able to grow and learn with other students in the program who live in surrounding communities, too.

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