National Mental Health Awareness Week: May 10–16

Join us as we highlight the ways the Estes Valley Community Center supports your mental health!

National Mental Health Awareness Week: May 10–16

Stop by the Front Desk for a green ribbon sticker to show your support!

Tuesday, May 10

6–7:30 p.m.
Cooking for Mental Health
with Chazz
Included with membership or
Daily admission fee
Registration Required
EVCC Lower Level 
Community Room A

Wednesday, May 11

9–11 a.m.
Interactive Class
Writing Club:
Journaling for
Mental Health
With Julie Bunton
EVCC Lower Level
Game Room


Thursday, May 12

12–12:45 p.m.
Happy Healthy Relationships
with Ryan Hale, Ph.D, LPC, NBCC
Included with membership or
Daily admission fee
Registration Required
EVCC Lower Level Classroom

4:15–5 p.m.
Yoga/Myofascial Release
with Rachel Waters

($) Registration Required
EVCC Lower Fitness

Monday, May 16

7–7:50 p.m.
SoundBath Meditation
Hammock or Floor
with Sheri Hartzog
($) Registration Required
EVCC Lower Fitness

The Positive Role of Fitness for Sophia Valeriano

Sophia Valeriano shares her story

Two years of pandemic living have created increased stress, isolation and uncertainty. That can take its toll on mental health. The National Mental Health Awareness Week was created to reduce the stigma of mental illness; making it easier to talk about issues and ask for help.

Sophia Valeriano, a member at the Estes Valley Community Center, wanted to share her story about mental health challenges and how fitness is a key component in overcoming them. She stated, “Mental health has always been so important to me, yet it’s uncomfortable to speak about because of the stigma surrounding it”.

Valeriano did not have a “safe space” growing up. She was surrounded by addiction and the mental illness struggles of family members. From the time she was 17 until she was 22, Valeriano found herself getting involved in abusive relationships. She recalls, “The cycle of abuse caused me to feel that I had lost control and power over my life and choices. It caused me to feel disoriented and helpless. I ended up being diagnosed with PTSD”.

Last year was, according to Valeriano, the hardest year of her life and she finally sought help for the anxiety she was experiencing. She was fortunate to find a wonderful therapist who asked her a question, “What is something you do that makes you feel powerful?”. That resonated with Valeriano. Her emphatic response? FITNESS. Valeriano explained that she got into fitness because it made her feel strong and in control of her body. Fitness regulated her emotions. She comments, “The gym is like therapy and has given me a safe space. Being a part of the fitness community here in Estes Park has helped me tremendously. I love walking in to the Rec and seeing familiar faces! I always leave feeling better than I did before. I hope others can find mental solace in their fitness journey as much as I did.”

Need a little art therapy?
There will be colors and coloring sheets in the Lower Lobby all week! 


From; October, 2020

Exercise provides more benefits than improved physical health. There are well-documented positive effects on mental health that include stress reduction, improved sleep, increased levels of confidence and the benefits of social interaction and being a part of the gym community.

Here are some of the fitness opportunities at the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District that can help you boost your mental health:

  1. Walking Track: Going for a walk can ease stress, anxiety and depression. Even 15 minutes of moderate walking a day can benefit your mental health.
  2. Yoga: The benefits of yoga include body awareness, stress and muscle tension reduction as well as strength and flexibility. Consistent yoga practice can lower the heart and respiratory rate, reduce blood pressure and boost serotonin.
  3. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): It takes your cardio workout to another level, as you alternate between intense levels of cardio work and recovery periods. Benefits include a high post-workout metabolic rate, improved muscle oxygen consumption and a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure. You can utilize HIIT with any type of cardio workout and need little or no equipment.    
  4. Resistance/Strength Training: The focus is on building muscle, but it also provides a boost for self-esteem and confidence; both of which are associated with physical and mental well-being.
  5. Zumba®: It’s social, fun and mentally challenging as well! You will get your heart rate up and put a smile on your face.
  6. Swimming: Whether you are swimming laps, water walking or taking an aqua fitness class, swimming will tone muscles, build strength and improve cardio fitness. It provides an all-over body workout, as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming. And, there’s something about being in the water that is relaxing and refreshing!