On January 17, Matt Ashburn, President and Founder of ReachOut
and a student at Seton Hall University, visited Mount Saint Mary Academy to distribute “stress kits” to juniors Zoe Daly ‘24
and Zoe Schack ‘24
. The kits contained puzzles, stress balls, journals, play dough, kinetic sand, and a variety of other activities and materials aimed at reducing anxiety and improving mental health.
According to Barbara Cappucci, School Counselor at Mount Saint Mary Academy, the stress kits which Zoe and Zoe helped the School Counseling Department to receive from ReachOut will be used with students either in the classroom, during office meetings, or in the Wellness Center by Kathy Ketofsky, our Student Assistance Counselor.
ReachOut is a non-profit organization which shines a light on the importance of improving mental health in the K-12 landscape as a result of COVID. Mr. Ashburn assembles and donates the kits for student use.
Last year, Zoe Schack has received a $725 grant from Civics Unplugged so that she could develop Project Well-Z, a non-profit aimed at providing teens with mental health resources. The grant covers the costs of nonprofit registration, fund the creation of the website, (which features an interactive map of youth mental health centers) and pays for social media advertising.
“Last winter, through my involvement in the Mount’s JSA chapter, I was introduced to a youth civics organization called Civics Unplugged. In January, I applied for and was accepted to the group's Civic Innovators Fellowship. For three months, I took part in sessions on how to apply the principle of civic innovation across different disciplines. Civics Unplugged also offers grants for students who complete the fellowship to pursue their own community initiatives," said Zoe Schack.
“Throughout the course of the fellowship, one central theme was the idea of accessibility: making crucial resources available to all regardless of location, socioeconomic status, or age. I found that a lot of mental health advocacy, especially for teens, focuses on promoting self-care and positive thinking, but I wanted to take things a step further by connecting young people to substantial resources like helplines, local mental health centers, and meaningful dialogue among peers.”
In the summer, she submitted a proposal to the organization for Project Well-Z. Treasurer, Zoe Daly, along with Secretary, Maria Pasqua ’26, hold leadership positions within the organization.
Zoe Daly is responsible for budgeting the grant from Civics Unplugged and she conducts research and provides resources for their extensive online catalog.
“Being involved with Project Well-Z is extremely rewarding and personally motivating as I have had many friends and family members struggle with mental health. Providing greater awareness and resources to those in need encourages my work,” she said.