Our Artists:

Chris Bittner

Mel Forkner Lesher

Mark Pilato

Marisa Vicere Brown

Nancy Vicere

A Big Thank You:

The Park Forest Middle School Team:

Craig Herzing

Jaclyn Fraudorfer

David Eckberg

Howard Pillot

Molly Gazda

Maure Irwin-Furmanek

The Park Forest Middle School Stomper was made possible through the generous support of Park Forest Middle School and our partners.

Special Thanks To:

Pam Monk, Playwrit and Journalist

Dr. Peter Montminy, Pyschologist

Dr. Dave Yukelson, PSU

Kindrah Kohne, PSU soccer

Laura Gebhart, PSU Field Hockey

Holly Torbic, Tides

Belle and Fancy, support dogs

Erin Cramer, Art Therapist

Michaela Herr, Art Therapist

Deep Breathing Exercise

Some other tools to help you relax include deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.  These activities can help begin to open your mind, body and spirit and create a sense of calmness. 

  • Stand up straight with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Arms and hands are relaxed downward
  • Body is relaxed
  • Eyes closed
  • Focus on lower abdomen (belly) and imagine a small balloon in that space
  • Breath in slowly an deeply through your nose, imagining the balloon inflating slowly, hold in a few seconds
  • Slowly exhale through the mouth, imagining the balloon gently deflating; blow out of the mouth as if blowing out a candle
  • Tip: Place a hand over the lower abdomen to feel it go up and down and make sure you’re not breathing with the chest
  • Repeat 10 times.

Our Discussions:

Healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety?

  • Talk About It
  • Gather More Information
  • Do Something Relaxing
  • Practice Mindfulness
  • Keep a Journal
  • Don't Let Things Linger
  • Exercise
  • Take a "Time Out"
  • Figure Out What's In Your Control
  • Learn from the Situation
  • Take Action
  • Humor, Laughter
  • Learn Relaxation Techniques

What causes us stress?

  • Bullying
  • Name Calling
  • Social Isolation
  • Body Image
  • Academic Difficulties
  • Big Events (Performances)
  • Not Getting What We Want
  • Feeling Alone or Neglected
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Teachers and School
  • Tests

What is Stress?

Stress is any change, positive or negative, to which we must adapt.  It is a natural part of everyone's life, but we must figure out ways to help us relax and regain focus to remain healthy.

We all deal with stress in different ways. Sometimes we feel angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, other times the stress motivates us to do better.

We learned that our reactions often depends on our past experiences and our perceptions of the event.  By focusing on what we can control, we can help reduce the unhealthy feelings toward stress and anxiety.

Students of Park Forest Middle School came together to discuss issues around stress and anxiety, healthy vs. unhealthy ways to cope, and ways we can support one another through life.

Messages of hope and encouragement were written on parts of the sneakers to help remind people how important they are and how we are all in this together.

The pictures to the left provide a look at some of our speakers, activities and decorated pieces.  Students participated in the "Marshmallow Challenge." learned about creative writing, performance anxiety, art as a form of healing and relaxation, yoga, and even had visits from Tides and support dogs Belle and Fancy.

The Take Flight Stomper and it's story was unveiled on April 21st during a health fair at Park Forest Middle School. 

Park Forest Middle School Stomper

"Take Flight"

Created by Park Forest Middle School Students in collaboration with Mel Forkner Lesher, Mark Pilato, Chris Bittner, Nancy Vicere and Marisa Vicere

“Let your dreams and life take flight, but remain grounded and remember where you came from” - 7th grade student

Everyone, no matter age or background, faces stress on a daily basis and while not all is negative, it is important to learn healthy ways to cope.

Throughout a two week residency with over 130 Park     Forest Middle School students, we learned new methods to cope with stress and anxiety. 

The Stomper was named “Take Flight” to remind us how these new techniques lift a burden off us and allows us to “fly” after our dreams. We are also reminded that we are grounded by the sneakers. It is important to remember where we came from and who we are.

- “Take Flight” was created by 6th, 7th and 8th grade students at Park Forest Middle School with the generous support of their administration, teachers, and counselors.


Take Flight was entered into the Art Alliance Recycled Art Show on

April 11, 2015 and won "The Skye's The Limit Youth Award." 

Congratulations Park Forest Middle School!

"Take Flight"