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Building the tools to succeed; 4-H explores mental health

Crow Wing County’s 4-H Ambassadors will host Happy Day: A Mental Helth Workshop for kids in fourth through 12th grade, Sunday, March 27, in Crow Wing County’s Land Services Building.

Cassie Girling going through bins at work
Double checking all the supplies for Happy Day: A Mental Health Workshop, Cassie Girling was proud of everything the Crow Wing County’s 4-H Ambassadors have done in preparation for the workshop Sunday, March 27.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — When you think of a leader, oftentimes it is someone who does not wait for the problem to fix itself.

They are self-driven toward making the world a better place.

That is exactly what Crow Wing County’s 4-H Ambassadors did earlier this year when they got together and came up with Happy Day: A Mental Health Workshop. The workshop for kids in grades 4-12 is 1 p.m. Sunday, March 27, in Crow Wing County’s Land Services Building at a cost of $5 per child, to cover supplies will be collected at the door. To register, call 218-824-1069. Pre-registration by a parent or guardian is encouraged.

The ambassador program is considered a leadership development program in 4-H, said Cassie Girling, the Crow Wing County 4-H Youth Extension educator.

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Students working around a table.
Ambassadors dive deeper into mental health education at the March Crow Wing County’s 4-H Ambassadors meeting.
Contributed / Crow Wing County 4-H

“Back in January, they had to retreat and kind of plan out their program year,” Girling said. “Historically, Crow Wing County does what's called Project Days, where they (highlight other) project areas for new members. This year, they wanted to take a different approach, because they felt that mental health is an important topic that was lacking attention in their school.”

Seeing how the lack of resources was affecting her peers firsthand was ninth grade Ambassador Laura Lust, who wanted to provide others with the knowledge and resources they need to understand mental health.

Two students working at table
Bailey Rosekrans, left, and Abby Schrier, 4-H alumna and Ambassador leader, planned the apple nachos session during one of their meetings.
Contributed / Crow Wing County 4-H

“I've been talking to a lot of people who say they've been struggling with a lot of mental health and I don't think there's enough awareness around it,” Lust said. “When I went to Blue this year, it's a 4-H camp, I met a lot of people who had the same idea. So it just kind of expanded from there.”

A 4-H poll found that 82% of teens would like it if Americans talked more openly about mental health issues and 70% wish their schools taught more about mental health.

In preparation to teach other students, the ambassadors learned about mental health over the last few months and have designed their own workshops to present to their peers, said Girling.

Happy Day.6.jpg
Jade York plans for the homemade stickers session in preparation for Happy Day: A Mental Health Workshop for kids in fourth through 12th grade, Sunday, March 27.
Contributed / Crow Wing County 4-H

With everything from yoga to apple nachos, Lust said they are looking to break the stigma surrounding mental health and happiness.

“(Happy Day) is not just for people with mental health problems, but people who are having bad days as well,” Lust said. “It’s for everyone, to just bring awareness, learn different coping skills and how to help other people who are struggling.”

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Only helping with the administrative side of things, Girling said she’s “never been so proud” as she explained how the ambassadors have done all the work and preparation for this event.

Students stand around talking in front of a flip board.
Crow Wing County’s 4-H Ambassadors learn the basics of positive youth development and what to include in a learning session.
Contributed / Crow Wing County 4-H

“They came up with this idea, and I was just quiet, listened to them and kind of guided if I needed to, but really, they came up with the entire thing,” Girling said. “So they went by consensus and decided this is what they wanted to do.”

Presented by the 4-H local Ambassadors, Happy Day: A Mental Health Workshop includes:

  • Making apple nachos,
  • Making homemade stickers,
  • A yoga and breathing class,
  • Painting a “paint it forward” rock,
  • Creating and designing affirmation jars,
  • Using music as a coping tool,
  • Making stress balls and bracelets.

Read more
Crow Wing County Jail looks to be fully staffed in the coming months as jails around the state are forced to reduce their inmate numbers.

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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