Story by Adam Kwoh
Photo by Oscar Walsh
South Pasadena invited residents to its first Family Wellness Fair at Orange Grove Park on Saturday, Jan. 11. Tiger Health, led by seniors Christian Montoya and Bailey Negrete, organized the event, bringing together health-focused organizations across the Los Angeles area to inform attendees about resources and services for mental health and wellness.
The event hosted more than ten different organization booths, each providing informational pamphlets and contacts. Organizations like The Wellness Center provided free giveaway frisbees and information on the dangers of smoking and vaping. SPHS English teacher Katie Jaroch offered attendees a stress-relieving yoga session inside the nearby Teen Wellness Center.
Guest speaker Dr. Nalini Mattai spoke on the seriousness of mental health and wellness, including the growing dangers of anxiety and depression.
“It used to be that back-pain was the biggest reason people came to the doctor’s office, but now, in 2017, anxiety overtook that,” Mattai said. “It’s having a really negative impact on their work and social interactions and it often goes for over 6 months… [A big part] of anxiety is recognizing that you have it and going to get help.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu made a special appearance at the end of the event, presenting a certificate to Montoya and Negrete’s Tiger Health club while noting the importance of mental health resources.
“It’s not often that you have students who are able to get the whole community together for such a good cause,” Chu said. “There is far too much of a stigma in our community about getting help for mental health issues, but by having this first annual Family Wellness Fair it is saying it’s okay to have issues with mental health.”
Montoya and Negrete have been planning the event since last year when they started getting in touch with South Pasadena Community Services and other health-focused organizations.
“I have been struggling with my mental health for awhile now and I understand that a lot of other students also feel the same way,” Montoya said. “I decided that if nobody else was going to advocate for [mental health and wellness], I think that someone should step up to the mantle… that’s why I decided to have this fair.”
Montoya and Negrete hope to make the fair an annual event for South Pasadena residents and will continue to organize the event alongside Tiger Health and Community Services.