SPEAK Week comes to Watertown High


Raider Times photo / Courtesy Christina Lupica

Kiki the therapy dog visiting with some Watertown High School students as part of SPEAK Week 2023.

Raider Times staff

Christina Lupica, who works for Wayside Youth and Family Services, joined Watertown High School’s journalism class on Friday, March 31, for a Zoom interview to spread awareness for SPEAK Week and Wayside’s other services.

SPEAK week — the SPEAK stands for Sharing Personal Experiences and Knowledge — promotes awareness about mental health issues by bringing in organizations to participate in student-centered activities that encourage discussion. This year, the two organizations that came to WHS were BAGLY, a youth-led social support organization, and 2nd Act, a group of artists in recovery who make art to address the issue of substance use.

Some of Ms. Lupica’s works with children and teenagers, helping with social and emotional needs, as well as mental delays. When asked why she decided to do youth-centered social work, Ms. Lupica stated, “I’ve always wanted to work with kids.”

Kingian Club members leading a group of Watertown High students on how to make an origami crane during SPEAK Week 2023. (Raider Times photo / Courtesy Christina Lupica)

“The work I do is macro social work that has to do with community outreach and reaching out to the several providers,¨said Ms. Lupica.

Many of the activities in SPEAK Week were run by students. When asked how important that was for her, she responded that it was essential because she wanted the students to do something they were passionate about. She also mentioned that students know best what interests their peers and what types of presentations would be most helpful.

Reflecting on the biggest challenges and greatest rewards she experienced in her work, she smiled and said, “That is a really good question. When I meet different people, I try to come in with many activities including group activities. I want to put myself in the shoes of the students and I want to make them interested.”

Ms. Lupica said that if students could get one thing out of the presentations, it would be just having the chance to hear something from the outside presenters that they can relate to and knowing that there are resources and other people out there with similar situations. She said she enjoys promoting mental health awareness and also collaborating with youth leaders and SPEAK Week gave her a chance to do both.

She has worked in many jobs in the field of mental health, but says working for Wayside has been one of her favorites. She explained that the environment is good and the job itself is dependable, not just for money but also the positive people and place. She added that one reward about working at Wayside is that she has a presence in the schools and is part of the community.

Ms. Lupica is always happy to hear ideas from students about new ways to promote mental health and well-being in our schools. She can be reached by email at [email protected].

(Story reported and written by Monika Arakelyan, Edmond Daly, AnaBeatriz DaSilva, Harris Fleming, Pamela Pacheco Pocon, Yulissa Reyes, Samuel Shea, and Kylie Young of the Raider Times staff.)

— May 3, 2023–