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Fellowes students learn how to achieve a natural high

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer
Dr. Matt Bellace, a youth motivational speaker and stand-up comedian, speaks to Fellowes High School students during his presentation called “How to Get High Naturally.” Bellace provides the students with healthy coping mechanisms against stress, alcohol and other drug use and bullying behaviour.

Sean Chase/Daily Observer Dr. Matt Bellace, a youth motivational speaker and stand-up comedian, speaks to Fellowes High School students during his presentation called “How to Get High Naturally.” Bellace provides the students with healthy coping mechanisms against stress, alcohol and other drug use and bullying behaviour.

 

Today's high school students live with many pressures often turning to alcohol and drugs to cope with their mounting anxieties. However, there are alternatives.

Recently, Fellowes High School hosted Dr. Matt Bellace, a youth motivational speaker and stand-up comedian with a degree in clinical neuropsychology, who offered another way. With an energetic presentation, Bellace effectively used humour while focusing on how to foster non-cognitive skills, such as self-control, grit and resilience, as a way to deal other than alcohol and narcotics.

“I believe natural highs are better than chemical highs,” said Bellace. “It never causes damage when you enjoy a natural experience. Chemicals don't work that way. You will feel great for a short period of time but you will crash. If you keep doing that you will have a harder time enjoying everyday life.”

During the presentation called “How to Get High Naturally,” Bellace presented techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, effective communication and using natural highs, as healthy coping mechanisms against stress, alcohol and other drug use and bullying behaviour. Bellace told the school body he believes developing friendships with people who bring with them bad influences and sleep deprivation due to students constantly on social media are two of the biggest contributors to stress. In many ways, social media has replaced the day-to-day interaction that students need to engage in healthy friendships.

“Unfortunately today so many people are missing out on that face-to-face interaction, with the texting, that it is hard to develop empathy for another human being because you're not looking at another human being,” Ballace said who asked why are there so many miserable Internet trolls. “They probably don't look at a lot of people as the day goes by. They look at screens and they think it is okay to send off these horrible, disgusting things about people they know.”

The Princeton, New Jersey native reviewed techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, effective communication and using natural highs, as healthy coping mechanisms against stress, alcohol and other drug use and bullying behaviour. But he reminded the students that personal tragedy shouldn't translate in an excuse to turn to drugs and destructive behaviour.

Bellace related the story about one school presentation he attended where he was constantly interrupted by a student who had a bad home life. Afterward, another student came up and apologized for the actions of his classmate. Bellace learned after that this particular student had lost both parents in a car crash which took place in front of the diner where he worked. Yet he arouse from that tragedy to become a student leader and star athlete.

“He took unspeakable pain and used it for the forces of good,” he explained. “He was a student leader and a role model. What did the other young man do? He took his pain and used it for the forces of something negative. You have a choice. You show up here everyday. It's up to you. What are you going to do with your pain?”

The presentation was a result of a partnership between Fellowes and the Renfrew County District Health Unit. Principal Amy Johnson said both organizations are seeing a need for positive messaging to the students.

“Our students here at Fellowes report high levels of depression, anxiety, feeling disconnected. Many are self medicating to handle those feelings,” said Johnson who agreed with Bellace's call for the students to unify and have more empathy for each other's needs and situations. “If we take care of each other we can be a healthier school community.”

SChase@postmedia.com