Helping individuals ‘Stress Less’


Four Olentangy Liberty High School (OLHS) students are set to compete in next month’s state Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Community Awareness competition following a top-three finish in the regional competition on Feb. 11.

Freshmen William Wang, Samadhi Liyanapathirana, Luke McFarlane, and Ashlly Seng took home third-place honors in the Region 5 competition to earn their place in the state competition, which will be held on March 16 at the Columbus Convention Center as part of the HOSA State Leadership Conference.

The Community Awareness Program provides HOSA members with the opportunity to educate their community about a particular health or safety-related issue at the local, state, or national level. The OLHS group chose to center their Stress Less campaign on stress management and better mental health habits as a result of an issue that is too often hitting close to home.

“We’ve all seen a rise in suicide cases, not only nationwide and statewide, but especially in our school district,” McFarlane told The Gazette. “So we thought raising awareness around this issue is a huge deal that we need to address, and we need to teach people how to properly handle their stress.”

Liyanapathirana added, “We know that high schoolers, like everyone, deal with stress. And we know that it’s really important to learn how to maintain it and control it, or even just to learn how to aid someone else who is dealing with it, so we chose stress because it bounces off so many other different illnesses that we also post about.”

As part of the project, the group has created a website and pages on various social media platforms that share information and suggestions on stress management, as well as facts about certain afflictions that may affect stress levels. The group has also held meetings at their school, posted flyers in the community, and handed out sweets for instant boosts to dopamine levels.

The group has even created a 25-page book detailing its campaign initiative and efforts to have an impact on the local community.

McFarlane said that through their meetings, the group has had numerous students at OLHS reach out to ask about speaking during the meetings to share individual experiences with stress and how it is managed and mitigated.

As for the competition, the group was tasked with creating a portfolio detailing the initiative, which was then presented to the judges to be graded on a 100-point scale. A maximum of 45 points were available for the quality of the portfolio, itself, while a total of 55 points could be awarded based on the group’s presentation skills and detailed deliverance of the campaign.

“It was kind of a shocker to all of us,” Seng said of finding out they had qualified for the state competition. “We knew we did pretty well because we all put a lot of effort into our portfolio, and we practiced a lot with our presentation. But it was still very surprising, and it was, overall, a really happy experience.”

Wang called the moment “relieving,” while Liyanapathirana described it as “empowering” to know the group’s work had paid off.

“It was overwhelming, the joy we were feeling because it was very stressful the week leading up to it preparing and finalizing our portfolio. We were really drilling down on this thing,” McFarlane said.

Liyanapathirana added the experience was ironic in that it produced its own elements of stress as the group prepared to deliver the presentation. However, the group said they were able to bring their campaign full circle by acting themselves on the many tips and pieces of advice shared with the community about how to manage stress loads.

Should the group fare well at the state competition next month, there could be an opportunity to advance to the national competition, which will be held in June in Dallas, Texas. While there’s still work to be done, the group believes they’re doing everything they can to position themselves well for a spot in the national competition.

“I feel like we’re definitely putting the work in that could lead to us moving on to the national level,” McFarlane said. “We are putting the work in, we care about this campaign, and we want to watch it go that far.”

In advance of the state competition, the group will be able to build on the project’s portfolio. Armed with the knowledge that the work they’re doing is being felt by their fellow students, they’re more motivated than ever to continue striving to ensure the campaign reaches its furthest limits.

“Personally, I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that what we’ve done has helped them. … Knowing that we’ve made that much of an impact on other people’s lives really motivates each of us to put in more effort and really enjoy this whole experience,” Seng said.

For more information on the campaign or to find links to their website, visit the group’s Instagram page @olhsstressless.

No posts to display