Mental Health Wellness Week

Students at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bellmore-Merrick Central School District recently spent time with trained and certified therapy dogs thanks to the nonprofit organization Therapy Dogs Long Island on Feb. 12.

In collaboration with Kennedy’s Wellness Week, a Goldendoodle named Kheiron and his handler visited for a student “stress buster” where students were able to sit with, pet, and hold the dog for stress relief and mood improvement. Some of the other activities that students participated in during Wellness Wednesday included, mandala coloring, yoga and make your own stress ball. 

“Studies show that dogs can help to improve mental and physical well-being, relieve anxiety, and improve learning and empathy,” said library media specialist Kristen Mogavero, a co-organizer of the event, along with math chair David Prince. 

“This experience hit on all of the senses to initiate destressing,” added Prince. “I am very grateful for the support of the administration in bringing the therapy dogs into school and being open minded towards opportunities that benefit our students,” added Mogavero. 

Throughout the rest of the week, each grade level was able to participate in assemblies, including Cyber Safety and Social Media Use for ninth graders, Substance Abuse and Brain Development for tenth graders, Teen Mental Health and Coping Skills for eleventh graders and What to Expect in College for 12th graders. 

On Friday, the Key Club continued their tradition of making a “Take What You Need Wall,” with kind messages for students to take with them. 

“Each period of the day also included a kindness challenge, asking students to complete acts of kindness for another person in the building,” explained Principal Gerard Owenburg. “I truly hope the positivity seen around our building continues throughout the remainder of the school year.” 

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Cami DiGangi and Jimmy LoDispoto with therapy dog, Kheiron. 

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From left, Maddie Livingston, Lexi Weissman, Natalie Palladino, Hayley Kuhn and Sydney Hochman signed up ahead of time to spend time with Kheiron, a 3-year-old therapy dog during Wellness Week at Kennedy High School. 


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Jessica Chilton’s Key Club Officers constructed a Take What You Need Wall 

Photos courtesy of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High SchoolDistrict 

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