Herren Project, Herren Talks and Herren Wellness hosted their first, nation-wide prevention initiative and wellness movement last week. The response, participation and support we received throughout the week was overwhelming and awe-inspiring. Wellness Week with Herren was a week-long, wellness-driven initiative to highlight the pillars of wellness and initiate conversation and action regarding their importance in recovery and beyond. Each day of the week from Monday, March 2nd through Saturday, March 7th featured daily themes to engage individuals, schools and communities to generate an understanding of wellness and its impact on our physical, spiritual and mental health. Our goal was to provide the necessary tools for participants to practice wellness in their daily lives, inspire people to make healthy choices and help to prevent the misuse of substances and ultimately the disease of addiction.
Monday March 2nd – Live Well
Be You, Live Well
Wellness Week with Herren kicked off with the week-long Herren Fitness Challenge. Chris Herren, members from the Herren organizations, alumni, school organizations, community partners and individuals participated in tracking fitness goals with a personal fitness log including water intake, steps, and minutes of exercise each day. Along with the fitness challenge, schools participated in Wellness Bingo and Read Across America Day. Chris Herren travelled to Kansas & Ohio, sharing his message to students in six school assemblies.
Tuesday March 3rd – Real Talk
Grow, Heal, Thrive – It All Starts With Wellness
On Tuesday, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., Herren Project, Anna Maria College and Molly Bish Center hosted a free screening of Chris Herren’s film, The First Daywhich highlights issues that school systems, communities and people across the country are impacted by, directly or indirectly, each day including substance use, other harmful behaviors and mental wellness.
Additionally, The Family Dinner Project (TFDP) and CASA Family Day collaborated with Herren Project to develop conversation starters, games, and recipe cards to help families talk about wellness at the table and have fun doing it. The goal was to help families find new, easy ways to access two of the many benefits of the family dinner table — increased resiliency, decreased risk of substance abuse and healthier lifelong eating habits.
Wednesday March 4th Educate – Wellness
The Key to Prevention & Recovery
Along with a second screening of The First Day, hosted along with the Newport Country Prevention Coalition and CCRI, Herren Project’s Director of Clinical Services, Kristin Young hosted a webinar to discuss the differences between adult and teenage brains and offered parents and caregivers some tools to interact with their teens in positive ways and help their teens live well. Herren Wellness guests and alumni gathered for Pins For Prevention, a bowling event celebrating recovery and living well.
Thursday March 5th – Practice
Live Your Best Life – Practice Wellness
Thursday marked the 2yr Anniversary of Herren Wellness. Recognition of this milestone was celebrated with a “Focus on the Family” and how past guests and their families have learned the tools they need to live their best life.
Herren Project held an “I AM” poster contest in an effort to encourage students to learn self-love and acceptance through positive affirmations. Students shared their “I AM” posters on social media using the hashtag #IAM to generate conversation on the importance of positive thoughts and self-talk. Building self-esteem allows us to face challenges in a more positive way, guide us to make healthier choices and improve our overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, students participated in the Act of Kindness event where they were encouraged to write positive statements on purple sticky notes and place them throughout their schools to support, inspire and empower whoever read them.
John A. Holmes Herren Project Club & Taylor Theater also hosted a free community screening of The First Day with 100 community members in attendance.
Friday March 6th – Celebrate
Celebrate Wellness & Healthy Choices
To celebrate the positive ways wellness improves our physical, mental, and emotional health, schools and communities nationwide gathered and celebrated who they are – individuals and communities who are making a positive difference for prevention and recovery of substance use disorder. As part of the “Show Your Purple Spirit” contest, schools and communities were encouraged to show off their purple spirit by wearing purple, holding purple pep rallies and events or decorating their towns in purple ribbons or lights. Throughout the week, participants shared their purple spirit on social media using the hashtag #purpleandproud.
To continue celebrating wellness and recovery throughout March we launched the “Celebrate Wellness & Recovery” writing contest. The contest asks applicants to share a piece of writing that shows how wellness has played a role in your journey as it relates to your or a loved one’s substance use disorder. The contest is still open to anyone who’d like to participate. Submissions are being accepted until March 30th and three winners will win a signed copy of Chris Herren’s Basketball Junkie as well as have their writing posted on Herren Project’s website. Visit “Celebrate Wellness & Recovery” Writing Contest for more details.
Saturday March 7th – Community
Find Your Community. Live Well Together
As Wellness Week With Herren came to a close, we encouraged people across the country to come together to get involved in their community of friends, relatives, or colleagues to share time with those who lift us up and have a positive influence on our lives.
Herren Project Ambassadors, Julie & Andy Rogers, hosted a run/walk meet up in the state of Washington at Evergreen Park as part of their initiative, Recovery Rocks. Recovery Rocks promotes a positive, healthy lifestyle with a focus on recovery, connection, community and awareness.
Wellness Week with Herren also held a week-long give back event, “Be You. Do Good.” Through this donation drive items were collected for two local charities who do incredible work with children, most affected by addiction – Child and Family and Boys Town New England – both located in Newport County, RI, home of Herren Project. The collection included diapers, wipes, toothpaste, toothbrushes and pajamas for boys and girls up to age 10.
Highlights of the Week
Highlights that made this first year so memorable and successful!
Chris Herren participated in the fitness challenge logging over 50,000 steps and 6 gallons of water. Did anyone beat him?
Herren Project distributed over 2,500 shirts, 50 banners, 2,000 stickers and 2,500 wrist bands to schools and communities that participated in Wellness Week With Herren to share their enthusiasm with gear that encouraged healthy practices and wellness and the “BE YOU” spirit.
The Sakonnet River Bridge (Rhode Island) and the Kenneth F. Burns Memorial Bridge (Worcester, Massachusetts) were lit purple throughout the week to raise awareness for prevention, wellness and recovery.
Herren Project Alumni held a Paint Night event where alumni gathered to express their creativity through art, share their wellness journeys and goals, and bond over stories of recovery.
Herren Talks participated in the fitness challenge and hosted six student assembly presentations – four in Kansas and two in Ohio. At each event, Herren Talks distributed stickers and wrist bands to students that encouraged wellness.
Herren Wellness participated in the fitness challenge while hosting a ski trip, basketball games, tennis matches, and the “Pins for Prevention” bowling event. Herren Wellness also hosted a “Ask A Life Coach” event where participants could receive guidance on a wellness-driven life. Most importantly, they celebrated their 2-year anniversary on March 5.
We loved hearing from the many individuals, schools, and organizations that participated in the event on how impactful celebrating wellness was in their communities. Herren’s goals as recovery-driven organizations are prevention, wellness, and recovery. Wellness Week with Herren allowed us to celebrate those in recovery practicing wellness, start new conversation around wellness as well as expand our message to school communities and organizations in the name of prevention.
Here are just a few of their inspiring words in hopes you will mark your calendar for the first full week in March in 2021, March 1 – March 6, and join us next year!
“Over the past week it was amazing to see so many people come together to celebrate wellness with a focus on prevention and recovery. From the schools to community events with a focus on fitness, mental wellness, giving back and wearing purple. I am so grateful for the support and look forward to building on the success of our first annual Wellness Week with Herren in 2021.” – Chris Herren, Founder Herren Project, Herren Talks, Herren Wellness
“Wellness week with Herren was a huge success. We are grateful for the support of individuals, schools, communities and businesses from all across the country who joined us. We are already looking forward to next year to make it even bigger and better.” – Kevin Mikolazyk, Executive Director, Herren Project
“Wellness Week with Herren was one of the most rewarding initiatives I have ever been part of. When I started to organize and plan, I never imagined how many people we could inspire and motivate to be the best versions of themselves. Through WWWH I made personal connections with so many people! I worked with kids, teens, and adults. I worked with Criminal Psychologists, Wellness Directors, the District Attorney, and people in their most vulnerable states looking for treatment. I am grateful that this initiative brought so many people from so many backgrounds together and help them realize that kindness matter. Wellness is worth it!” Jillian Moriarty, Prevention Coordinator
“Wellness Week with Herren illustrated once again that wellness begins with, WE. It’s about a healthy spirit, mind and body for all and the best way to work toward that is together. I’m so grateful for all who help us continue this conversation and growth.” – Pam Rickard, Director of Active Engagement
“Community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. It was beautiful to see everyone come to celebrate wellness, recovery and the power of being you and living well!” – Danielle Sharp, Herren Project Ambassador, FL
“Wellness comes in relationships! We are wired for connection. Grateful for all my friends and family who support me and each other.” – Ginger Hopkins, Team Herren Project, TX
“Watching the schools and communities embrace Wellness Week with Herren nationwide was truly inspiring. Hallways in KY and OH where Chris shared his message across six schools were decorated with the Wellness Week posters and banners. Every purple shirt, wrist band and sticker were worn with pride!” – Jenny Swider, Communications Director Herren Talks
“This week we have been celebrating and participating in healthy activities to prevent substance use disorder and empower those affected by the disease of addiction, all while encouraging overall wellbeing.” – Caitlin Martin, Herren Project Ambassador, NY
“Wellness Week provided a huge boost for everyone in the Jacob Hill community! From running, to bowling, to skiing, everyone connected through healthy activities. It showed everyone how vibrant and fun living in recovery can be!” – Lori McCarthy, Director Herren Wellness
“Getting outside provided me the chance to express my freedom in recovery. Wellness Week let me hit my peak!” – Fenwick, Herren Wellness Guest
“The Family Dinner Project (TFDP) is excited to collaborate with the Herren Project on Wellness Week with Herren 2020. For this week, we have developed conversation starters, games, and recipe cards to help families talk about wellness at the table (and have fun while doing it!). Our goal is to help families find new, easy ways to access two of the many benefits of the family dinner table — increased resiliency, decreased risk of substance abuse and healthier lifelong eating habits.” – Cindil Redick-Ponte, MSSW, Assistant Executive Director, The Family Dinner Project
“Burncoat embraced Wellness Week at our school! The structure provided by Herren Project with daily themes helped guide our club to create activities that would promote the daily theme in our school and community. The intensity and excitement built as the week went on as more and more students wanted to become a part of something so fun and healthy. The entire school was impacted – the actives were visible, students were involved, purple was everywhere, and conversations started that won’t end!” – Meg Brunelle, Burncoat HS, Worcester, MA
“The most amazing moments happened during the “I AM” poster making. After I asked the kids to brainstorm positive words or phrases that they could say about someone else, the stares turned blank when I asked how many of those words or phrases, they could say to themselves. After a few minutes of conversation, one girl very tentatively questioned: “I think I am strong?” I jumped & yelled with excitement and she smiled so big I almost cried. She looked down and immediately started to decorate her “I AM” poster and I think she started to believe. It was now a statement, not a question. It really is all about the first day. Helping kids believe in themselves and know that everyone has struggles and we just need to believe in one another. What a beautiful message! I will continue to work this theme into all of my curriculum moving forward.” – Sandy Denault, South High Community School, Worcester, MA
“We had a blast wearing purple and supporting Wellness Week With Herren. WellStrong’s mission is to create safe, supportive communities of people in recovery from substance use disorder through fitness, wellness and meditation. We are always honored when our two organizations can team up and strengthen those communities. Exercise is one of the pillars of my recovery. Community is another. WellStrong and Herren are dedicated to both.” – Ben Haas, Outreach Director, WellStrong, MA
“It was great to watch Wellstrong members put on purple as we ran to support Wellness Week With Herren. Collaborating with other recovery organizations is a positive step in the right direction for the recovery community.” – Danielle Alexandrov, Asst Executive Director, WellStrong, MA
“Wellness and community are so important to my recovery. It was fun getting out with the WellStrong Run Club in support of Wellness Week With Herren. Nothing beats a winter sunset, some fresh air, and exercise with friends!” – Sarah Roberts, Studio Manager, WellStrong, MA
“Health and wellness are a key component to recovery and being able to celebrate every aspect of it was a fun and inspiring experience. Wellness Week with Herren was a powerful way to dial in multiple dimensions of self-care and easy to support! Personally, our favorite themes were “Celebrate” and “Community”. Immersion Recovery Center have always been eager to participate in Herren Project events and were Purple and Proud on Friday.” – Immersion Recovery Center
FroPro is a staple of wellness within our community. We were honored to host a Wellness Walk/5k on Saturday in support of Wellness Week With Herren. We brought together numerous gyms in our area to donate raffles to help continue the mission of helping people Grow, Heal and Thrive. We easily forget that we need ways to rejuvenate our well-being and WWWH provided not only a reminder of that but easy, effortless ways to take care of yourself. “– FROPRO
“Worcester Fitness is a comprehensive wellness center in business for 42 years. We have deep ties to our community and embrace opportunities to partner with charitable organizations. Our primary focus is supporting charities serving the health and wellness of children and families. Herren Project meets these guidelines perfectly. Addiction prevention education in local schools is vital to stopping the addiction epidemic. We love that the message is for each student to love themselves and just be who they are. Empowering kids to be healthy, strong teens will carry them into adulthood to be healthy adults. Wellness Week With Herren brought energy to Worcester Fitness, awareness to what Herren Project does, and an opportunity to shine a positive light on our positive members. We run programs for middle and high school girls’ sports teams, and they loved sporting their purple BE YOU shirts and proudly writing their I AM posters during one of their weekly workouts.” – Andy Sharry, Worcester Fitness
“It was such a pleasure participating in this year’s Wellness week with Herren! Some highlights included watching all of the resident’s reactions while viewing “The First Day” documentary. They were able to identify with everything being said from beginning to end. (There were even some tears shed). We also had an amazing time making the “I AM” posters. Sometimes it is difficult to give ourselves positive affirmations in early recovery. The guilt and shame tend to get the best of us, but positive affirmations are vital in empowering us to gain our self-esteem and confidence back. Overall, it has been such a great week, but the work does not stop now. We will continue to use the energy from this past week and keep driving forward! Thank you so much Wellness Week With Herren! We can’t wait to participate again!” – Robert Granelli, Director of Admissions, Oaks Recovery Center
Herren Wellness Week provided our 8th graders with motivational activities to remind them of the importance of self-care. Each day my kids came into class eager to know what new “challenge” awaited them. . .from Bingo, to I AM posters, to starting dinner conversations, my students opened up and bought into the spirit of Wellness Week. Thank you for making it so easy and providing a springboard to class and home discussions. Keeping the momentum going with our own Bourne Purple club for the remainder of the school year is our vision going forward. “ – Cyndy Beaudoin, Bourne MS, MA
“I think the biggest takeaway from Wellness week with Herren was how Wellness Week wasn’t necessarily just about addiction. It allowed my students to see the beauty of what living a healthy lifestyle feels like – so they can continue to make great choices and better decisions and not turn to substance abuse and cave in to peer pressure. It was a great week to make them feel better physically, mentally and help them engage better, socially. The BINGO card was a hit with my students who turned it into a competition at first, but then realized how good they felt when they were doing good in the school, community and taking time for themselves and escape the harsh realities of this world that we live in. I think that was the biggest takeaway. That and one of my new students (who had no idea what the Herren Project was until now) became the HP 7100 follower on Instagram!” – Josh Gentry, Hungary Creek MS, VA
We’d like to recognize our community partners whose efforts helped to make Wellness Week With Herren successful: