In The News

Student Essay Contest Winner: Grades 9-12

Students in grades 9 to 12 answered the question “What are the key principles of wellness, and how does following them create a healthy community?”

Following is the winning essay. (All essays have been edited slightly to facilitate readability.)

What are the key principles of wellness, and how does following them create a healthy community?

Wellness is a dynamic, lifelong process in which we become aware of choices and make decisions toward a more balanced and gratifying life. It is these choices and decisions that drive us to look deep within ourselves, and then to outwardly shine for others to see. It involves choices about our lives and our priorities that determine our lifestyles. Wellness is a trickle-down effect that requires the participation of the whole community to be effective. Far beyond our physical state, wellness is demonstrated through generosity, friendship, a positive outlook, and self-respect; and it begins with us. In order for wellness and prosperity to flourish in our community, we must take it upon ourselves to come together and create a healthy, prosperous society.

The definition of wellness is “to be in good health”; however, acquiring wellness goes far beyond our physical state. In order to create a healthy society we must provide one another with a healthy environment. The first step in creating that environment is through generosity. Generosity is like water, in that it flows or continues without stopping. Small acts of kindness can mean the world for others and often causes them to do a small deed for someone else. This continued flow ultimately results in happy faces, new friendships, and a healthy atmosphere.

Generosity often requires little effort, and yet it demonstrates the condition of our hearts. Oftentimes a simple smile and hello as you walk by a complete stranger can bring about satisfaction and happiness. We do not know about the many difficult trials and tribulations he may be enduring, but our simple act of courtesy can make a difference. Of course, other small acts of kindness, like visiting the old widow next door, creates a special bond of friendship and wellness that helps enrich our community. It is not the different medication nor the doctor visits that are keeping her alive; in fact it is the smiles, the exchange of short stories, and the laughter that makes her feel young and healthy. Small acts of generosity and kindness lead to a well-knitted and healthy society.

Friendships create the foundation in which wellness and health spring forth. One of the key principles in order for wellness to succeed is the development, enrichment and progression of friendships. Something about the long conversations about nothingness, and the pleasant company, brings about warmth and healing to the soul. Friendships generate a healthy environment, not only for friends, but for those around them. Watching best friends walk down the street, laughing and talking, lightens the atmosphere and creates a healthy environment. In order for our community to be healthy, we must place a large emphasis on friendships and promote growth through them.

Our own view of life can bring about health or sickness. Because of this, it is imperative that we have a positive outlook on life. If we hope to have a healthy and positive community, we must focus on the positive. We must also generate an optimistic view towards others to continue the flow of wellness. Having the ability to turn a bad situation into a positive one, or always looking for the good amongst the bad, creates a healthy mood for everyone to live in.

Sometimes a positive outlook on life does not rub off onto others, but it still brings about wellness and happiness for you. Oftentimes, however, a positive outlook and atmosphere causes others to want to spend time with you, which in turn generates wellness for the community. A positive outlook on life and on the many obstacles we face help strengthen our personality and provide the community with well-rounded and healthy citizens.

Lastly, in order to produce a healthy community, self-respect is essential. We cannot look to others to create the type of community we want unless we begin with ourselves. Self-respect is the foundation in which all the other key principles grow. Without self-respect, we will not have the decency to be generous or courteous. We will not have the courage to make friendships, and if we have no respect for ourselves, then we will generate a negative mood through our pessimistic thinking.

Self-respect creates happiness about ourselves, which in turn gives us a healthy soul and body. With more self respect in our community the amount of deaths, drugs and eating disorders will drop. Healthy societies start on a personal level and require the participation of each of us in order to make our community strong and sound. Without respect for ourselves, we cannot expect healthy atmospheres nor high-quality living.

Wellness extends far beyond the physical realm. It is our responsibility to provide our generation, along with future generations, with a healthy and strong upbringing. This can only be satisfied if we strive for excellence and wellness in each individual of the community. However, others cannot force this upon us; we must joyfully undergo the task of creating the positive atmosphere that we want to live in. Wellness is produced when we make our decisions about our lives, and the awards we hope to receive from it.

Some may believe that wellness is a process that begins and ends at a hospital, but it is so much more. Wellness begins in our childhood when we begin to establish who we are and who we want to become. Wellness does not come from many pills and rest in a hospital bed, but from the flowers, the cards, the “get well” balloons, the friendly smiles and visits. In order for wellness to spread, we must individually take the time to evaluate ourselves and then demonstrate the actions we hope to see in others. Achieving wellness is a difficult process; however, the results are unmatched and extremely rewarding.

Jeremy Van Driessche
Royal High School
Age 16; Grade 11