Student-athletes learn value of stress relief, self-care through popular pastime

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Student-athletes on Sunday learned the value of stress relief by playing good old-fashioned board games. 

The pastime created an interesting sight along Peterson Avenue in West Ridge. There, a couple of dozen student-athletes played a different type of game with a purpose. 

“Board games, it causes you to think. It causes you to use strategies and really, again, it’s fun and just stress relieving as well,” said Steven Brewer, athletic director with Senn High School.

For years, Buddies Helpers have partnered with the PepsiCo challenge athletes, allowing the students to do service projects in the community. Their latest project is donating thousands of board games to senior homes across the state. 

“We high schoolers want to show that we make a difference in our community,” said Adekunle Adebayo.

Over the next month, about 50 board games will be given to each of 72 senior homes, a total of 3,700. Unfortunately, that figure is the same number of teens who attempt to take their own lives every day in the United States.  

“Basic self-care is essential for all ages, whether it’s young or old. Our generation alone has seen a skyrocket in teen suicides,” said Ethan Danehl with Metea Valley High School. “I believe if all of us work together, we can get that number down.”

Brewer said with school set to begin this week, self-care is paramount. It’s an important step on several fronts, encouraging young athletes to reduce stress and learn from those who’ve lived and learned themselves. 

“Through the power of sports, we are competitors on the field but teammates in the game of life,” Adebayo said.

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“It’s the cycle of life, right?” said Gabriel Fuentes, a counselor with George Washington High School. “Behind us, we have a residential home and students need to understand wisdom. A lot of Wisdom that comes with age and I think when students get to speak with their elderly, they learn that from having conversations with them.” 

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