Speak Week 2019 will try to help connect the dots at WHS

Events begin March 18 and hope to inspire students to talk about substance abuse and mental health issues

Raider Times photo / Selin Kugu

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“People have to understand mental health is important for your physical health, as well.”

Those words came from Stephanie Sunderland-Ramsey, who works for Wayside, which runs the Watertown Youth Coalition, which runs Speak Week at Watertown High School.

“Speak” is an acronym for “Sharing Personal Experiences And Knowledge”. And Speak Week is a week of talks that inspire students to talk about substance abuse and mental health issues. #Hope Squad will also help participate in running events during Speak Week.

Speak Week has been going on for 12 years at WHS. It started as Diversity Week then was changed to Speak Week. This year, it runs from Monday, March 18 through Friday, March 22. This year’s theme is “Connecting the Dots Between Teen Substance Use, Mental Health, and Racial Equity”. (For a complete listing of events, go HERE.)

“There’s a lot of stigma in getting help and looking for someone to talk to, that could lead to substance abuse,” said Sunderland-Ramsey during an interview with Raider Times on March 15.

Raider Times photo / Selin Kugu
A full week of events are planned for Speak Week 2019 at Watertown High School.

On Monday, March 18, the students at WHS will be taking the YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey). It’s about 100 questions long, asking about drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual activity, personal safety, and mental health. 

“Stress, anxiety, nervousness, and bad feelings in your stomach are related to your mental health,” said Sunderland-Ramsey. “It would be helpful for you to understand that better.”

There will be two talks per day; in the lecture hall in the morning, and the rest will be small presentations during all three lunches.

As an example of one of the presentations is “Welcome to Rehab” led by Improbable Players on Tuesday. According to the sign-up sheet, “The WYC Peer Leaders worked closely with Improbable Players to explore and express coping, addiction, and overcoming. They will perform a collection of scenes and poems developed during this workshop process. They will then guide the audience in creating a poetic healing piece.”

(For more information about the Watertown Youth Coalition and its events, see its page on Facebook.)

–March 17, 2019–