By David Amirsadri
Plenty of emphasis is placed on the academic success of high school students. Work hard. Study up. Make good grades. Equally important is the physical health of students, and that too receives adequate attention. But what of students’ social and emotional health? What about the state of their minds— the very things that allow them to be students? These topics often fail to receive the attention they deserve, despite the widespread suffering caused by mental illness and stress. At competitive high schools like EGHS, these issues are especially prevalent. Action by competent, committed change-makers is sorely needed. ASAPP, a newly formed club, serves precisely that purpose. Founded by sophomores Michaela Shunney, Ella Saint, Nick Callahan, and junior Emersyn Nutting, the organization has received a considerable amount of support from East Greenwich students. In light of this, I recently sat down with a number of students involved with ASAPP to gain a better understanding of the organization and its goals.
At its core, junior Miguel Figueroa told me, ASAPP is a mental health club. “ASAPP,” he told me, “is an acronym that stands for Assess, Support, Action, Proceed, Prevent. That is the procedure you follow if you find yourself in a situation that tests your mental health, your social well being, your physical health, or really anything similar.” At the core of ASAPP’s mission is analysis of the fundamental causes of student stress, with an emphasis on providing a “toolbox” to Rhode Island communities to deal with socioemotional issues. ASAPP, fundamentally, seeks to empower communities. It promotes self-reliance. “Within… communities, bonds may be built, and people can help each other with problems they face,” Figueroa told me. Emphasis is placed on outreach to communities unlike East Greenwich. Additional outreach is extended to students at schools like Hannaford or Cole.The ASAPP approach is one that accounts for the diverse, multifaceted nature of the human psyche. Student minds are composed of physical, academic, and social elements. Understanding this allows one to appreciate the coexistence of these elements, and the consequences of imbalance.
Equally integral to ASAPP is an emphasis on community service. To that end, I spoke with junior Lindsey Miga, who is involved in community outreach and volunteering efforts on behalf of ASAPP. Miga explained to me that ASAPP volunteering activities included outreach to elementary schools in East Greenwich, services on behalf of the homeless, and efforts to raise money on behalf of the Tomorrow Fund. Miga’s activities in ASAPP are an extension of her additional activities in Safety Town, as an organization that seeks to educate young, elementary school children on safety. Miga told me that she hoped ASAPP would encourage greater student involvement in the community. “I’m hoping it gets kids involved,” Miga told me. “That’s always been the main thing for me– getting kids involved in doing something that gives back.”
ASAPP’s mission– the promotion of mental health and community service– is more vital than ever. In an age when schools, colleges, and employers have grown more competitive, it is vital that students not loose firm grounding on which to stand. It is vital that students not lose a sense of themselves, and that they be empowered with the tools they need should trying circumstances arise.