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Annual conference to teach students how to be friends, leaders
friend to friend pic
Teacher turned rock star and nationally acclaimed speaker Davey Muise will be the keynote speaker at Tuesday's Friend to Friend Student Wellness Conference hosted by the Stanislaus County Office of Educations Prevention Programs. - photo by Photo Contributed

Stanislaus County Office of Education’s Prevention Programs Director Vicki Bauman believes that the best way to communicate with a student about mental health and wellness is to connect them with another student.

That is why the Prevention Programs Department is expected to welcome on Tuesday nearly 600 middle school and high school students throughout the county who want to learn how to be a leader to their peers at the annual “Friend to Friend” Student Wellness Conference.

“This event offers a fantastic opportunity for students to learn more about wellness and become better equipped to be leaders in the schools,” said Bauman. “We are thrilled to host this event for students in our region.”

This year’s conference will coincide with California’s Each Mind Matters campaign’s Mental Health Awareness Week to shine a spotlight on student mental health and wellness. During this week, communities are encouraged to come together to show their support and spread awareness about the importance of mental health.

During the event, students will hear from speakers who have learned to healthfully cope with mental health challenges, one of which is teacher turned rock star and nationally acclaimed speaker Davey Muise.

As the keynote speaker, Muise will share his empowering story of triumph over mental health challenges, including depression, divorce, abandonment and failure. His message will encourage students to help others triumph as well.

“I hope that he will teach students the meaning of resilience,” said Bauman. “He has been through a lot in his life and he had the choice to be resilient and move forward or to be stuck in a pity party. He chose to overcome and succeed.”

Throughout the day, students will attend breakout sessions on topics such as healthy body image and the impact of alcohol and drugs on human performance. Students will also participate in hands-on, practice-based sessions such as mindfulness and art for wellness.

“We need to equip students with everything we can to make them successful and set them on a path to be happy, as well as teach them how to serve others and give back,” said Bauman.