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Students Organize Webinar to Help Teens Cope with Stress in a Pandemic

On May 12, Hope Squad members Lauren Dziedzic ’22 and Julia Swanson ’22 organized a webinar for Loyola students and parents with two prominent guest speakers, Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, nationally known as America’s most trusted celebrity psychologist with media interviews including The Today Show, Dr. Oz, Forbes and more, and Loyola alumna Cristin McAuley ’00, LCPC, president of CMCM Services, Inc. The discussion was titled “How Teens Can Cope With the Past Year's Stressors” and focused on overcoming mental health issues within the context of a global pandemic.
To watch a recording of the webinar, click here
 
“The entire program was put together by Lauren and Julia in about a week’s time,” says School Counseling Department Chair Mrs. Sheila Blanchfield. “I am so impressed by their continued leadership as Hope Squad members.”  
 
“I was so excited to work with Dr. E. I have been a fan for a while now and really hope to make a difference in teenagers' mental health like she has,” says Dziedzic, who is passionate about social media’s effects on teenagers and decided to personally reach out to Dr. Lombardo. “I was starstruck when she responded in less than a day! I texted Julia right away, and we were so excited.” 
 
Dziedzic explains that she met with Dr. Lombardo the next week to discuss her ideas and together they came up with the topic for Loyola’s presentation. Swanson wrote up announcements and also secured Ms. McAuley, who had recently spoken to Loyola's Women in Leadership Club, as an additional guest speaker. “When I first heard Ms. McAuley speak at a Women Leaders panel, it inspired me to host a panel but for Hope Squad,” Swanson says. “When I reached out to her with only a vague idea she replied quickly and enthusiastically.”
 
Together Dziedzic and Swanson created an outline with questions and topics to guide the discussion. They created a Google form for students, parents, faculty and staff and  other attendees, like a national Hope Squad corporate representative, to sign up and submit questions in advance.  And they promoted the event on the LA Hope Squad Instagram account. Their hard work paid off—over one hundred attendees participated in the discussion.
 
“Mental health is more prevalent than ever,” says Dziedzic. “I want my peers and their parents to know that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s actually a positive thing. I’ve heard too many of my friends and peers compare themselves to unrealistic standards, which is a lot of what Dr. E discusses and studies. Her focus on the inner critic connected with me from the second I first heard of her. It’s time that we spread hope throughout Loyola Academy so that we can all learn to embrace our differences.”

“The panel went smoothly and, for those who had their cameras on, I could tell they were taking in the information and really processing it,” adds Swanson. “Afterward, I received some texts from classmates and friends saying how much the Zoom call helped and that they would definitely rewatch the recording of the Zoom if they needed to go over some of what the panel covered.”
 
Both Swanson and Dziedzic currently serve on Loyola’s Hope Squad and plan to continue their involvement as seniors. Notably, Dziedzic will represent Loyola Academy on the Hope Squad National Council next year.
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    • Hope Squad Webinar

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