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Varsity Brands Unites Educators to Elevate Mental Health in Schools at Second Annual Summit

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DALLASAug. 14, 2023 — On July 24 and 25Varsity Brands, the market leader in sport, spirit, and achievement, hosted its second annual Educator Empowerment Summit, where around 200 participants explored the current state of mental health in schools.

The Collective, an initiative within Varsity Brands’ IMPACT program, encouraged educators at the virtual summit to initiate conversations and empower action that aims to progress students’ mental well-being. The Collective’s partner mental health organizations – including Erika’s Lighthouse, Hip Hop Public Health, Crisis Text Line, Generation Spirit, Holistic Performance Center and The GoBeGreat Foundation – presented their programming, and this year’s keynote speaker was international youth transformation speaker 

Chaz Perez, who discussed the importance of connection and self-talk as these concepts relate to mental health and healthy relationships.

Participants joined roundtable discussions and interactive breakout sessions to identify needs and discover new solutions for students, teachers, coaches, support staff, administrators and parents from across the globe. Throughout the two-day professional development event, The Collective’s efforts impacted:

  • 190 Total Unique Participants (collective reach of around 2 million students)
  • 115 teachers and coaches (K-12)
  • 22 parents and community members
  • 22 Collective members and Varsity Brands teammates
  • 20 state-, district- and building-level administrators
  • 11 counselors and social workers
  • 4 international attendees from the Canadian provinces of NewfoundlandAlberta and Ontario, as well as Abuja, Nigeria

“The Educator Empowerment Summit is a team effort across the Varsity Brands enterprise with each division of the business contributing to our overall mission, and this year’s event was a huge success for all of us,” said Aaron Hart, Vice President of Curriculum & Program Engagement for Varsity Brands. “Varsity Brands leads The Collective with a focus on elevating the mental health of students and educators in all schools. We worked with educators to explore the current state of mental health in our schools, and we gave all participants a voice to share their needs and what resources will support them. We look forward to digging deeper into the insights and feedback provided so The Collective can take action on improving students’ experiences in the near future.”

As a result of this year’s summit, educators collaborated and generated 178 unique suggestions and data points focused on mental health in schools in 28 breakout sessions. The IMPACT program will organize and prioritize the information gathered to guide the work of The Collective over the next year.

Key takeaways from the breakout sessions in which educators discussed and provided feedback to The Collective include:

  • The Collective partners will develop a new Mental Health Awareness Press Kit for schools and local mental health advocates to use to raise awareness with local parent groups, school boards and district-level administrators.
  • Educators are requesting more free online events that will help them continue to build community with other mental health advocates working in schools. As a result, Varsity Brands and The Collective are committed to a minimum of six online events in the 2023-24 school year.
  • Teachers are concerned about the toll that stress is taking on teachers and the teaching profession. They’re looking for more solutions to help their colleagues manage stress and seek and receive help when needed.

“I think the most important advancement that The Collective has made over the past 12 months is the growth of this community,” said Sasha Roopchand, Health and Physical Educator at The Brooklyn Green School. “It takes a village! Having all these resources available in one location for educators helps to ensure that they at least consider implementing and utilizing effective tools that we can trust.”

To learn more about Varsity Brands, IMPACT and The Collective, please visit varsitybrands.com.