Video and Written Feature by Katherine D., Concordia Applied Journalism
One thing that has kept constant throughout the hectic lives of Concordia students wrestling with lockdown and cyber school in the past few months has been the weekly yoga and meditation sessions hosted by Sustainable Success. Days of pent up frustrations can be reconciled every time students meet up via Zoom and follow through workouts together as peaceful melodies flow through the screen and fill each room.
“I think this is very helpful for students to relax and destress,” says Lillian F., who co-founded Sustainable Success with fellow student Anita F. Their shared passion for psychology and mental health was what drew them together at first to create this club at the start of last school year.
Since then, their model has been refined multiple times with an unwavering overarching objective. “We want to promote conversations about vulnerability and student wellbeing in high school student body,” says Anita. “I think it’s really important for us as high schoolers to have a safe place to talk about these things and find information to reassure us that many other high schoolers are going through the same struggles with as,” adds Lillian.
During exam week, the club hosted discussions about destressing and for APAC week it was about toxic positivity. But the project’s growing momentum and attraction suddenly dried when the Coronavirus swept in. The weekly sharing and discussions on mental health could no longer take place, and scores of students were becoming preoccupied with other things. Issues with low student turnout rate—which Sustainable Success faced even before the virus—was being magnified.
“We feel like we can do a better job of [reaching] a bigger portion of the student body because we know that the topic of wellbeing and soft skills might not be everyone's cup of tea and not everyone is ready to have discussions about it,” Lillian explains.
Yet despite all these challenges, the duo has made a promising turnaround. “I understand why Sustainable Success can be kind of intimidating for some people because they might feel like they are being forced to talk about their feelings,” Anita explains, “but that’s why we have many platforms for people to learn and engage, such as our social media platforms.”
Indeed, Sustainable Success’s Instagram account has been posting thought-provoking items about loneliness, procrastination, productivity in the past few months, to which the students have been actively liking and commenting. Moreover, “we are hosting this thirty-day productivity challenge where every other day we post a tip about how to be more productive based on the common bad habits that we have,” Lillian says with a smile. “We have also been trying to post activities that make students more physically active.”
The club’s efforts have been recognized by many Concordia students and faculty members as it even goes on to offer tips about coping with the early morning AP tests. Even though raising student engagement is still an important goal for them, Lillian points out that “we are just trying to help people familiarize themselves with these topics so they can gradually become more comfortable. Hopefully, when they become more comfortable, they would be more willing to join us.”
“Next year, we really hope to expand beyond Concordia high school and into middle school and other places around Asia Pacific,” Anita reveals. While their goal of creating a safe and inviting environment for mental health conversations within the Concordia community is a difficult task that requires time, Sustainable Success’s achievement has been to get it started.
Katherine D. is a student of Concordia Applied Journalism