By Jordan Glassock, Contributing Writer
The North Dining Hall is crackling with energy as twenty student volunteers in light blue t-shirts prepare the finishing touches to their stations as Fresh Check Day begins. Hosted by UMF club Active Minds, this new event was organized to help promote mental health awareness and featured many activities for students to participate in.
Twelve tables lined the perimeter of the hall, two for registering, and ten for various stations that are part of the event. Next to registration students fill out a mandatory questionnaire on what they know about mental health. Gavin Pickering, one the counselors who works in Franklin Hall, leads that table.
“Fresh Check Day is a program funded by The Jordan Porco Foundation to bring mental health awareness to college campuses nationwide,” said Pickering.
“The Jordan Porco Foundation provides assistance in planning the event and giving ideas for programming to help reduce stigma and to inspire conversation about resources and ways to support those with mental health issues,” he said.
Fresh Check Day offered several themed tables such as “Trash Your Insecurities,” where students could write down something that they feel insecure about, crumple it up and throw it in a small silver trash bin. There was also “Uplift,” where students could build motivation kits, and “Elephant in the Room,” where students could write down what their elephant in the room is.
Brianna Fowles, a student who volunteered at the “Uplift” table, says that she was having a great experience at the event. “It was interesting talking to everybody and meeting different people,” she said.
At noon, students and volunteers munched on popcorn, Chick-fil-A popcorn chicken, and assorted vegetables.
By the end of Fresh Check Day, around 50 UMF students registered to participate in the program. While Pickering considered this a good turn out, he thought that there could have been more to the event.
“I think the event could have lasted a little longer to allow word to spread about the program,” said Pickering continuing, “I hope that because it was such a success this year that next year word will spread faster and we will have more students interested in attending and participating.”
Fowles agreed that the event turn out could have been better. “I think that a good portion of people knew about it, but when I was reading stuff, it said that 200 to 1,000 people can be expected to show up, even on a small campus,” she said, noting that she saw maybe 100 people. She emphasized,“I feel like it could have been advertised a little more.”
Overall, Pickering was proud of Active Minds and the students who volunteered at Fresh Check Day.
“This is the first time we have ever done this event and the first time this event has taken place in the state of Maine which The Jordan Porco Foundation was pretty excited about,” he said.
Along with Fresh Check Day, Pickering says that Active Minds will continue to provide UMF students with other programs related to reducing the stigma that is often associated with mental illness.