The Olympic silver medalists and Connections Academy alumnae join the Pearson online school provider for virtual events to encourage youth and parents to openly discuss mental health, wellbeing and hope
Connections Academy, the fully online public school program serving K-12 students for more than 20 years, and part of Pearson, will host a series of virtual Emotional Fitness Talks during Mental Health Awareness Month. Amid a growing youth mental health crisis, Olympic medalists and Connections Academy alumnae Karen Chen and Lyndsey Fry will have candid discussions with Connections Academy’s Head of Counseling Services Morgan Champion, sharing their personal life experiences with mental health. Interested participants may register for any of the talks here.
Each Connections Academy alum will speak to their personal journey on a different topic, followed by an audience Q&A. Attendees may submit questions to speakers in advance as comments to themed posts on the @ConnectionsAcademy channel on Instagram, or during the live virtual events. Resources curated by Connections Academy’s counseling team will be provided at the end of each session for attendees who are seeking resources and more information.
Talks are scheduled throughout May, Mental Health Awareness Month, which has been observed since 1949 to raise awareness, reduce stigma and celebrate recovery for those who are experiencing or have experienced mental or behavioral health issues. Events will be promoted with the help of Upworthy, a platform dedicated to sharing the best of humanity, shared with Connections Academy families, and are open to anyone who registers, though attendance capacity is limited.
Scheduled talks include:
Lyndsey Fry on finding your own style of confidence
May 18 at 4 p.m. PDT / 7 p.m. EDT
2014 Olympic Silver Medalist, Women’s Ice Hockey
Arizona Connections Academy class of 2011
MBA, retired women’s ice hockey player, Harvard University class of 2015
Karen Chen on keeping calm under pressure
May 25 at 4 p.m. PDT / 7 p.m. EDT
2022 Olympic Silver Medalist, Figure Skating
California Connections Academy class of 2017
Women’s singles figure skater, Cornell University class of 2025
“As educators, we believe it’s our duty to prioritize our students’ mental and emotional health just as we would their physical health,” said Champion. “We hope these conversations create safe spaces that remind families they are never alone navigating youth mental health, and that we can open more doors of communication to encourage and normalize asking for help.”
New data from Pearson’s Global Learner Survey reveals that more than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, while nearly 90% believe it is important for schools for take actions to improve both student and school staff mental health, like providing free mental health services and resources.
According to the CDC, up to 1 in 5 children living in the U.S. ages three to 17 has a mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral disorder in any given year. Further, mental health has worsened for youth over the course of the pandemic, with more than a third of high school students reported experiencing poor mental health in 2021. Reassuringly, youth who felt connected to adults and peers at school were significantly less likely to report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
Connections Academy’s 47 online schools provide a tuition-free, K-12 public school alternative for families who want a different approach for their child’s education — flexible, tech-enabled and beyond the traditional classroom. Over more than two decades, the schools have served a diverse array of more than one million students including competitive athletes with demanding training schedules and beyond. Health concerns and bullying have also traditionally been top drivers for families who choose to enroll in Connections Academy virtual schools, which offer safe learning environments with greater flexibility to tailor the students’ learning experiences to their individual social, mental and emotional needs and strengths.
To register for Connections Academy’s Emotional Fitness Talks and to find additional youth mental and emotional health resources, visit connectionsacademy.com/emotionalfitness. To learn more about Connections Academy, visit connectionsacademy.com.
The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.