Meditation, graffiti art and a melting ice block help students relax at the annual Stress Free Fair

Originally published on May 17, 2016

From April 19–22, the auditorium was filled with Lowell students who attended Lowell Peer Resources 10th annual student stress free fair (SSF) at Lowell. Some days, the sound of calmness echoed throughout the auditorium, while on other days, students’ laughters and chatter could be heard throughout the halls.

This year, SSF expanded the fair from Tuesday to Friday, instead of the usual Friday, in order to offer more activities, lectures, and classes. “This year, they [Peer Resources] really outdone themselves. There is more variety of activities this year” senior Miranda Lee, a returnee to the fair, said. Some of the new activities this year were the environmental global warming awareness Ice Block activity and Bob Pit Booth, where random students were paired together and asked questions about each other. “The Ice Block is so simplistic that you just relax, and it’s just really chill, literally!” Lee said.

Peer Resources wanted to address institutional stress such as racism, fear of police, and gentrification according to junior Peer Resources Outreach Program (PROP) Leader Cynthia Tsang. On Tuesday, meditation teachers came, coordinated by Melvin Escobar who was one of the meditation teachers and Adee’s friend, and showed how meditation can help students focus and destress through yoga. The popular Alumni Panel of Color was cancelled, and replaced by Victor Lee Lewis, veteran social justice educator and researcher, who led three classes called “This is Your Brain on Race” where he offered insights on the connection between stress and societal oppression. On Wednesday, Hip Hop 4 Change gave students the chance to do graffiti art and taught the basics of rapping such as counting bars, wordplay, and rhyming techniques, showing a different way alleviate stress through visual and spoken expression, according to Tsang. Due to increasing police brutality news, USF law students came on Wednesday and taught street law to students by educating them about their rights should they ever be approached by the police. SSF also offered hands-on information on suicide prevention such as knowing what to do to support a suicidal peer on Wednesday. On Thursday, SSF offered beginner yoga classes taught by It’s Yoga Kids throughout the day.

Due to the rain, SFF was held inside and outside the auditorium instead of in the courtyard,which many students found disorienting. Sophomore Sofia Rodriguez wished that they held it outside in the courtyard, or decorated the auditorium and played relaxing music. However, she still appreciated the fair. “High school is a stressful place, so I think it is great that people are trying to help us have an outlet from our stress,” Rodriguez said. “I already knew that everyone is stressed out but it was interesting finding out the different ways people cope with stress.”

Regardless of the rain, SFF continued on with their plans. There were several booths that included information about relationship violence, gentrification, and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM Act), which is an American proposal for undocumented immigrants in the United States to be granted permanent residency. Lowell Ecology Club hosted tables where they discussed the environment with games as a celebration of Earth Day. There were also many crafty activities such as paper star folding, face painting, and making stress balls. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) volunteers also arrived with three dogs. “Everyone is stressed right now because of all the incoming AP’s and finals, so the stress free fair is a nice way for people to take their mind off their upcoming tests and maintain their mental health,” sophomore Melinda Li said.

According to senior PROP leader Benton Liang and Tsang, peer resources is excited for the upcoming years of the student stress free fair. “It is always changing and it’s just the start of, hopefully, years of improvements” Liang and Tsang said. “A dream fair would be a fair that every single person of the 2700 students at Lowell can participate and relate to… even if there is one person whose needs are different from everyone else,” Liang said.