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At RA, we begin each week with an all school assembly. It is tradition for every Grade 8 student to take a turn running the assembly and speak about something that is meaningful to them. Each week, their speeches will be posted on our website. These outstanding young people are the leaders of our school and have experiences and stories they want to share with our community. Before Thanksgiving break, Luisa S. spoke about how she found an outlet at RA that has helped her persevere and cope with a challenging personal issue. The title of her speech says it all - "We RA Persevering Community". Enjoy Luisa's story!

Not many people know this about me, but up until last year I had frequent panic attacks that I wasn’t able to control. I would feel like I wasn’t able to breathe and didn’t know how to handle it. Not being able to breathe is a scary thing. I never knew when they were going to happen: playing sports, doing homework, or even if I was just watching TV. Whenever this happened, I felt like it was one of the scariest times in my life. That might sound like an over exaggeration, but when a panic attack started it was hard to focus my mind on something else and to calm myself down.

One night, I was watching a TV show with my family when the breathing problem came on worse than it had ever been before. I could hardly breathe and I started screaming for help and to be taken to the hospital. My mom drove me to the ER, but it was quite a long drive. When we arrived, I calmed down a bit and we went inside. By the time the doctors saw me, they said that this was a stress-related issue. I had been pretty stressed out at the time with schoolwork and extracurriculars, and the fact that the doctor told me that it was nothing too serious put my mind at ease for a bit. However, soon the panic attacks came back and I didn’t know what to do. This year, I decided to try something new. I did cross country during school for the first time. To be honest, at first it wasn’t my most favorite thing because it was difficult and I was the only 8th grader on the team. However, I soon found that running is something that I really like doing if I put in the effort. You’re probably wondering what cross country has to do with panic attacks. I don’t know how to explain it, but it ended my breathing problem. Even though this year is one of the most stressful years I’ve had, with high school applications, lots of homework, and theater rehearsals, I haven’t had to deal with the panic attacks, thanks to cross country and the benefits of running. Long-distance running is just like trying to persevere through something difficult like a panic attack. If I hadn’t decided to try cross country, or had given up after just one practice, I might still be getting these attacks and would not have discovered my love for running.

Written by: Luisa S.