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Mosaic Stone Stacking: A teen mental wellness workshop

Adolescents go through a lot. They experience hormonal shifts that come with puberty. They often face racial and gender biases.

A "feeling" check-in at check-in. (From left to right) Ariatna Navarrete, Ruben Sanchez and Lilea Duran of First 5 Napa County (Photo credit: Israel Valencia Photography, Infinity Visuals).

Adolescents go through a lot. They experience hormonal shifts that come with puberty. They often face racial and gender biases. They are expected to excel academically to get into a superb university. Some may be expected to contribute financially to their household. They grapple with all of this while finding their sense of identity in our convoluted and politically charged social climate, intensified by living in a digitally saturated era. 

It can be overwhelming. 

About 40 percent of teens attending Napa Valley Unified School District(NVUSD) have reported feeling chronically sad and hopeless, according to the annual California Healthy Kids Survey

The local numbers are reflective of national data concerning youth mental health and agencies have geared up in full force.

Napa County schools are investing in mental health resources such as on-site therapists and mobile response teams that answer crisis calls relating to mental health emergencies. 

Other local programming also aims to address and support the mental needs of Napa Valley teens. 

The Mosaic Stone Stacking workshops came about as part of this movement. 

Charlotte Panton holds her final mosaic artwork (Photo Credit: Nic Meerholz, SeaTimber Media).

“Exploring the connection between mental wellness and art” is a core aspect of the workshop, according to Jeni Olsen, founder of Teens Connect and director of the Mentis’ Prevention Division. Mentis, one of Napa’s oldest nonprofits, is a bilingual mental health hub that provides services and resources to all community members. Services do not hinge on language or income level. 

The next Mosaic Stone Stacking workshop takes place on Jan. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Nimbus Arts in St. Helena. 

The free event is focused on teaching Napa Valley teens about balance, peace, priority, and play, Olsen said. “Research has shown that making art helps the pathways in your brain develop, and it helps you be in the moment; you are not on your phone or distracted. Working with colors is calming for humans.”

 This gives teens a chance to learn about how they can use art to aid holistic mental wellness, she added. “They are also learning to work with professional artists and some of our teens go off and pursue artistic careers.” 

Pax Heine holds their mosaic artwork (Photo Credit: Nic Meerholz, SeaTimber Media).

At the two-hour event, students will work with local professional artists to create their own mosaic artwork, which will become part of a public art project. 

“Individual mosaic tiles will be assembled onto large-scale stone sculptural forms,” Olsen said.  “The completed sculpture will be stacked up to 10 feet high and will be surrounded by a pool of natural stones to allow interactive play and peaceful reflection. The sculpture will be built in a public-facing environment in the city of Napa, and the location is to be determined.”

For more information about upcoming workshops, visit nimbusarts.org

To inquire about hosting a Mosaic Stone Stacking workshop for your organization or group, contact Jeni Olsen at jolsen@mentisnapa.org

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