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Wellness Center News

June 2022 Wellness Center Newsletter

Students can be seen at the Wellness Center by Ms. Shoshana, our Nurse Practitioner, or Ms. Vero, our Mental Health Counselor. To schedule an appointment, call 206-326-2141.

Visit the Wellness Center page.

Wellness Center Staff:

  • Shoshana Mirel – Nurse Practitioner
  • Vero Sage van Leuven – Mental Health Counselor
  • Lisa McDonald – Program Coordinator
  • Marcelene Dorian-Richardson – Health Educator

Stay Safe This Summer

Avoid these five-common summer-related accidents and illnesses.

  • Sunburn – Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ and reapply every two hours
  • Dehydration – Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks
  • Burns – Use caution when dealing with open flames such as campfires
  • Outdoor Injuries – Wear appropriate safety gear during activities such as biking, skateboarding and water activities
  • Food Poisoning – Don’t eat food out of refrigeration for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees

Mindfulness Activity – Mindful Eating

If you are up for the challenge, try mindful eating during a snack or meal. This takes practice. Mindful eating can help you slow down and use all your senses to enjoy the flavors of the foods. Try these steps to practice mindful eating:

  1. Bring the food to your nose and take a big whiff. When you smell the food, do you experience any emotions? Do you enjoy the smell?
  2. If may feel silly but bring the food/beverage to your ear. What does it sound like? This can be fun for carbonated beverages. Or listen to the sound of the crunch when you bite into certain foods (e.g., potato chips, carrots, apples).
  3. Notice how your mouth salivates as you bring food to your mouth. Savor the texture on your tongue. Is it squishy, crunchy, chewy?
  4. Before you swallow, chew a few more times, sip your beverage between bites, and repeat.

COVID-19 News

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying—especially people who are boosted. As with other diseases, you are protected best from COVID-19 when you stay up to date with recommended vaccines. CDC recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster as soon as you are eligible.

Place your order for Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests: Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order a 3rd round of free COVID-19 tests. Order more COVID-19 tests today.

More information from the department of health about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Aki Kurose Wellness Center has COVID vaccines for all students ages 12 and up. To schedule an appointment, please call 206-326-2141.

Kindness Alliance Meetings

  • A social justice group
  • Meets after school every Wednesday
  • Groups led by Ms. Vero and Ms. Shoshanna

To sign-up, visit the After School Programs page.

Previous Newsletters

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. During May, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) joins the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Each year they fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

Together, we can realize our shared vision of a nation where anyone affected by mental illness can get the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Help spread the word through awareness, support and advocacy activities.

Mindfulness Activity – Square Breathing

Square breathing is a great way to refocus your mind if you’ve been having a hectic day. It’s important to take
a brief break and clear your head. Here is the practice:

  1. Inhale for a count of four
  2. Hold for a count of four
  3. Exhale for a count of four
  4. Hold for a count of four
  5. Repeat steps

While breathing and counting, imagine a square. Each step is a corner of the square. As you count to four, move along one side of the square at a time. You can use anything square-shaped around you – post-it notes, a mouse pad, etc. After a few sessions of square breathing, you’ll be able to visualize the square in your mind while breathing deeply.

April is National Humor Month

Knock Knock

National Humor Month was conceived to heighten public awareness of the therapeutic value of humor. It’s no coincidence that the month begins with April Fool’s Day, April Fools’ Day traditions include playing hoaxes or practical jokes on others. Studies show a good dose of laughter has great benefits for your body.

Laughter can: activate and relieve your stress response, soothe tension, improve your immune system, relieve pain, improve your mood, help you cope with difficult situations, and help you connect with people. Make it a habit to spend time with people who make you laugh and then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.

Mindfulness Activity – Stressed Out? Walk It Off

Just as mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the present moment, Mindful Walking can help bring focus and calm while you move.

The steps that follow describe how to perform Mindful Walking:

  1. Pick a time in your daily routine to practice mindful walking for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Concentrate on the physical sensations of walking – the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of each step. Take deep, slow breaths.
  3. If your mind wanders, gently return your focus by repeating, “left, right” as you walk.
  4. When you’ve finished walking, stop for a moment to notice your breath again and how your body feels. How do you feel now? Is your mind less cluttered, does your body feel less stressed?
"celebrate a world of flavors" national nutrition month 2022

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is an educational campaign focusing on the significance of physical fitness as well as eating nourishing meals. Taking charge of your health contributes to overall well-being. Our overall health is a balance of diet, exercise, rest, and hereditary traits. While we do not have control over heredity, we do control the other three.

Nutrition is one of the biggest factors in our health. What we eat can significantly increase or decrease our risk factors for disease and injury. Most studies agree that including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and proteins comprise a healthy diet. Learn more about eating healthy!

Mindfulness Activity: Journaling

Journaling is a great practice for teenagers because it allows them to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. It allows them to clear their heads and take a step back from their thoughts by putting them down on paper. There are a lot of great prompts for teens to start their mindfulness journaling journey.

cartoon female with pencil and open journal, sitting at desk. on the desk, cup of pencils, map, stack of books with mug on top

For example:

  1. List 5 things you are grateful for.
  2. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
  3. Describe yourself in 20 words.
  4. What do you love most about yourself and why?
  5. Share a story about one thing you are proud of.

The best part about these activities that they are not reserved for teens. They are great for grown-ups as well.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

self care checklist - good sleep - eat healthy - exercise - meditate - take a bath - try something new rainbow and heart images

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Making self-care a routine part of your life will help you manage stress and anxiety, better cope with life’s challenges and help you enjoy life more. In your teen years as your bodies and minds are constantly changing and adapting, it is vital. Self-care means taking care of your physical and emotional health. Learn some self-care

Mindfulness Activity: Blowing Bubbles

Mindfulness is the state of mind that allows you to be present. It allows you to realize and recognize life as it is. Mindfulness activities helps you experience the present, reduce stress and overcome anxiety.

Try this:

  • You will need bubbles for this exercise.
  • If you don’t have any, you can mix some dish soap and water to create a homemade mixture and blow them with an egg mixer.
  • Blow a bubble. While doing so, pay attention to how each bubble floats magically away in the air.
  • Observe the swirling colors in each bubble.
  • Feel free to pop one, feeling the texture on your fingertips.
  • Visualize any stress or anxiety disappear.
girl smiling with eyes closed and bubbles in the air

Check out virtual “Mindfulness Groups for Parents and Caregivers” at Odessa Brown. The sessions are offered for free

Healthy Relationships

Relationships can be full of fun, romance, excitement, intense feelings, and occasional heartache, too. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, remember that it’s good to be choosy about whom you get close to. The keys to a healthy relationship are respect, honesty, trust, equality, and good communication.

Think about the qualities you value in a friendship and see how they match up with the ingredients of a healthy relationship. If you’re already part of a pair, make sure the relationship you’re in brings out the best in both of you. If you’re wondering whether your relationship is healthy: loveisrespect – healthy relationships.

Mindfulness Activity: Relaxing to Music

music notes

Mindfulness (being completely present in the moment) is a powerful tool that teens can use to manage many challenges in life. Research indicates that when teens consistently practice mindfulness, it lowers rates of anxiety and depression, and leads to better sleep, stronger relationships and increased self-awareness.

Try this Mindfulness Activity:

Click on the link below and listen to the song. Instead of focusing on the lyrics, pay attention to the music itself. What instruments do you hear? Is the song loud or soft? How does the music make you feel?

3 Ways to Practice Gratitude

Have a Happy winter break. penguins in the snow in front of an igloo

Gratitude doesn’t just feel good. Making a habit of gratitude can also be good for us. Like other positive emotions, feeling grateful on a regular basis can have a big effect on our lives. Brain research shows that positive emotions are good for our bodies, minds, and brains.

Everyone can benefit from making an effort to practice gratitude every day.

These 3 steps can help you start feeling more grateful, and appreciative of the good things in your life:

  1. Notice good things and appreciate them.
  2. Savor, absorb, and really pay attention to those good things.
  3. Express your gratitude to yourself, write it down, or thank someone.

Mindfulness Activity: Take a Technology Detox

The world is pretty awesome, and sometimes that is easy to forget.

Good Reasons to put down your Phone. Picture of clock: More free time. Stack of books with steaming cup. Computer monitor with to do list blocking: increased productivity. sleep mask with lambs floating over: better sleep. flowers in grass and sun: personal growth. candle and hearts in thought bubble: decreased anxiety. snow globe with rainbow and stars: enhanced awareness. phone with palm tree social media image: less comparing. Image by: @positivelypresent

One of the most beneficial mindfulness activities you can take part in is a technology detox. Whether this is every Saturday, a few hours or just 20 minutes a day, it really will make a huge difference to your mental health and wellbeing. In fact, the constant use of technology is a major contributor to stress in teens, which is why it’s so important to take a break.

We guarantee it will help you feel instantly calmer, have more control of your thoughts and allow you to enjoy living in the moment with family and friends.

wash your hands

Wear a mask, wash your hands and avoid close contact with others.

Is it Covid-19 or Flu?

It’s that time of year when we experience more respiratory illnesses like colds, flu and now Covid-19. It’s important to get a flu shot. Flu shots are free at the Wellness Center.

Covid-19 and the flu have similar symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, muscle pain or body aches. However, loss of taste or smell is unique to Covid-19.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine in children 5-11 early next week. The best ways to prevent Covid-19 are to get vaccinated if you qualify, wear a mask, wash your hands and avoid close contact with others.

Mindfulness Activity: Why Is This Practice Important?

The world is pretty awesome, and sometimes that is easy to forget.

jar with papers inside
  1. Create a “Jar of Awesome,” either physical or virtual — a mason jar or something like it would be perfect, or an email to yourself. You can leave your jar plain or decorate it like crazy. It may also help to keep a small scratch pad and pen next to it.
  2. Each day, write something down that you think is awesome — about your day, your life, or the world in general — and put it into the jar or on the virtual list.
  3. The minimum is one item each day, but you can add as much awesomeness to the jar as you like. 4. When you are having a hard day, read some of the notes in your “Jar of Awesome!

Managing Stress

breath in breath out flower and leaf

Many people are experiencing anxiety about Covid-19, being back at school and/or other stressors. It’s understandable if you are feeling worried, bored or frustrated. You are not alone. We all need ways to relax: deep breathing, stretching, meditating or engaging in activities you enjoy like exercising, gaming, reading or other hobbies. The “Stop, Breathe, Think” app is a mindfulness and meditation app that does just as the title states – it encourages you to stop for a moment, breathe and think. Download for free on Apple Play or the App Store.


Happy Fall Y'all

The following vaccines are recommended for Preteens and Teens. Students can check their immunization status at the Aki Kurose Wellness Center.

  • Meningococcal
  • Tdap
  • HPV
  • Flu

Mindfulness Activity: Set-Up Mantras

There’s a lot to be said about willing positive things into your life. A mantra is a motivating chant, like “I think I can, I think can” that you repeat over and over to yourself that can help bring confidence and joy into your life. Mantras can be read, chanted or even sung.

Try this:

  • Step 1: Find a mantra you like (“I am smart,” “I can do this,” “I am grateful for everything I have.”
  • Step 2: Get comfortable. Choose a place to sit down. Cross your legs and close your eyes.
  • Step 3: Focus on your breathing so you can be aware of when you inhale and exhale.
  • Step 4: Speak your mantra out loud several times. Feel how the words vibrate on your lips. Feel how the words can resonate through your entire body.

Mantras can be a great way to center yourself. Find new phrases that appeal to you as you go through internal and external struggles. Mantras are a constant reminder to yourself that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to.

Welcome Back to School

Welcome back to school! We are looking forward to seeing you at the Aki Kurose Wellness Center for the following services:

Fall Sports – Girls’ Soccer and Ultimate Frisbee

The forms for fall sports are located on the Aki Kurose website – Athletics page. If you would like to schedule a sports physical at the Wellness Center, please call 206-326-2141

  1. Primary Care
    Sports physicals, vaccines, check-ups (physical exams), colds, flu, infections, acne, eczema, allergies, asthma, health education and more.
  2. Mental Health
    Feeling down, stress, depression, relationship problems, self-esteem, family conflict, peer pressure.
  3. Health Education
    Growth and development, nutrition, healthy relationships, sexual health and education, tobacco and drug use prevention.

Mindfulness Activity: Tense and Release Muscle Relaxation

Mindfulness has become increasingly popular in recent years and there’s a good reason why. Research suggests that mindfulness is useful for well-being, physical health and mental health. Sometimes, all you need is five minutes of self-care to feel better.

Try this: Starting at your feet, gently squeeze the muscles in the feet by tightening them, then slowly releasing. Next squeeze the large muscles in the calves for 5 seconds, then gently release. Work your way up the body, squeeze the thigh muscles for 5 seconds, then gently release. Continue moving up the body for more relaxation. Take a few deep breaths. How do you feel?