My intention is to share the importance of wellness support programs at all school levels, by offering students tools for life.
Going through middle school is hard enough, and going through middle school feeling all alone makes it that much harder. Welcome to my life. I had some really great friends and even a best friend. I had loving and supporting parents. That all sounds great, but I hated middle school. I couldn’t stand feeling alone, small and uncertain, an overall feeling of being paralyzed. My mom asked me to go to therapy.
Yes my hormones were definitely raging at that time, that didn’t help. It was pretty customary for guys to tease and pick on one another. I couldn’t stand it. Every time someone cracked a joke about me I took it to heart. Would I say I was bullied? Sure, but I felt like a loser, a victim and even with the support from friends, families, guidance counselors and therapists, it didn’t always help. I was way too concerned with telling my parents or school faculty about what was going on, because I didn’t want to be “that guy”; the guy who gets the popular kid or the bully suspended. I really had no idea what direction to turn. It always felt like a lose-lose situation – a double-edged sword. It was tiring to always be in that place, standing on guard, being in the fight or flight position.
What was missing? Well at the time I had no idea what I wanted. Yes I obviously wanted to be popular, the girls to like me, and even the guys to like me. I guess I just wanted to be loved by everyone.
Through my journey of personal training and development I realized all that was missing was for someone to really listen to me and teach me the tools of how to handle situations, not to give me advice or to tell me that I was right and the bullies were bad for picking on me. At the time I hated the idea of my parents threatening the school to suspend or reprimand a kid. That would only provide evidence that I was a victim. What I needed were the tools to actually believe in myself, gain confidence and break the cycle of being a victim. I had a ton of evidence.
Throughout my journey of self-acceptance and self-exploration I developed confidence, and the ability to tackle fears from the past, I started really living. I am now a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I have several goals for students as a certified health coach. One goal is to empower students to explore and pursue their passions through teaching them life long tools. When I was younger I felt like the victim, and I know there are plenty of other students who are dealing with similar challenges. My goal is to help students have fun with what they eat, live a life they love, and to motivate them to reach their potential.
Emotional health for our children is a topic that must be addressed. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 8 percent of teens ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder, with symptoms commonly emerging around age 6. However, of these teens, only 18 percent receive mental health care.
In order to accomplish my goal of bringing wellness programs to schools I have completed a Leadership Course through Landmark Education. Serendipitously, I recently teamed up with, who is now my good friend, Joshua Kleymann, the Executive Director of The National Student Initiative.
A wellness program teaches you the tools to handle any situation in front of you. Students need to be listened to so that the appropriate action can be taken. Otherwise their experience of being a victim can be carried with them for the rest of their life. They need assistance on their own journey through support, mentorship, and being listened to.
Americans are more familiar with another epidemic in the United States, our weight issue. About one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese according to the American Heart Association.
I believe the overwhelming number of students that are overweight stems not only from nutrition but the stresses of everyday life. A wellness mentor support program at all school levels will allow for an outlet for students to speak about things on their mind, and will lead to improved emotional and physical health.
Who is Zach Schleien?
I am a graduate of Syracuse University (’12). Following graduation I pursued my passion for nutrition, becoming a certified health coach through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I am an avid follower of the paleo diet, and I love helping students find and pursue their passions. I’m a huge proponent of personal development, recently taking a Leadership Course through Landmark Education. I love to support my clients have fun with what they eat and achieve their nutritional goals. My favorite food is barbecued ribs, and recently I have an obsession with kefir. In my spare time I love cooking, trying new foods, traveling all over the world, and scuba diving!