Success Academy’s student mental health club is going from strength to strength

According to HWM partnership

In a remarkable transformation, the charter school system that found its roots in the Harlem has emerged as a pioneering example of mental health promotion on campus.

Academy of Successborn in 2006 with the first grade of kindergarten in Harlem, now stands as a shining example of comprehensive student well-being. While its early beginnings were marked by pioneering lottery-based admissions, it has since expanded to 53 schools serving more than 20,000 students from low-income neighborhoods across the city. Each campus is home to a dedicated social and emotional learning specialist, thoughtfully designed spaces and an atmosphere that prioritizes mental health.

One of the school’s most resonant success stories is the flourishing of the high school’s mental health club, which has grown in prominence and won recognition from both students and staff. Segnonble Yoanson, the club’s president, observes the transformative power it has, especially after the pandemic. Founded in 2021 as a student-led initiative, the club quickly became a haven for intellectual discourse and emotional solace.

Yoanson expresses his feelings by saying, “It was so pleasant and intellectual and like a safe haven. It was a community that I wanted to be a part of and even have a hand in influencing.”

….classes achieved a 100% college acceptance rate.

Behind the club hug, Academy of Success offers a number of privileges that its students would not otherwise have access to. The campus enrolls students through a random lottery system, and remarkably, each of its six graduating classes has achieved a 100% college acceptance rate. The academy has grown far beyond its original Harlem local, spreading its wings across the city. It integrates a dedicated social and emotional learning specialist in each new setting and maintains a well-being-focused environment.

Motolani Odukogbe, a specialist in social and emotional learning, emphasizes the profound impact: “People start to become aware and identify their emotions and take charge and try to fix whatever they’re trying to fix in their lives.”

Alexa Veloz, the club’s vice president of mental health, attests to the club’s transformative impact, recounting how it changed her career trajectory and even improved her home life. She says: “When I joined the mental health club, I realized I wanted to help people. So now I kind of want to be a nurse.” Additionally, Academy of Success students have access to a dedicated “UWill” platform that offers 24/7 professional mental health support. Veloz appreciates the flexibility of UWill, where he can choose the right professional based on his specific needs.

Veloz clarifies, “If I’m having similar issues with my own body on this particular day, I think, okay, I want to work on that. I feel stressed, I can work on that too. And I like how we can choose who we want to talk to.”

An 81% increase in student enrollment during this semester.

Especially, Academy of Success became the first in the United States to offer UWill to its high schools last year. Result? An 81% increase in student enrollment during this semester.

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From intimate dialogues to collaborative brainstorming, these young minds can now confidently navigate their own path to success. As Yoanson aptly summarizes, ‘Even saying to a friend, ‘I’m going through this,’ is really what gets us to a better future.”

For more information about Success Academy, click here.

Photo credit: Success Academy.

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