Active Minds Hosts Second-Annual Scale Smash

Photo courtesy Active Minds

Photo courtesy Active Minds

A chorus of metallic clangs greeted students walking across Commons Lawn Tuesday morning — the satisfying sound of Calvin’s second-annual Scale Smash.

Attendees strapped on a pair of protective glasses, wrapped their fingers around a baseball bat  and eagerly whacked away at the scales. A nearby table encouraged students to sign a poster and proclaim their support for all those struggling with eating disorders, body dysmorphia and other body image issues.

“It is … a very liberating experience to take something that has consumed your thoughts and not give it any more power over you,” said junior Kellie Martin.

Active Minds, a student organization that aims to “change the conversation about mental illness,” began this event in 2015 to raise awareness about eating disorders.

Martin and fellow junior Abby Hocking, both members of the organization’s leadership team, decided to test the Scale Smash concept last year as they researched other colleges’ mental health-related efforts.

“Something like [this] was missing,” reflected Hocking. “We took a gamble … last year, and it was very successful.”

The 2016 event produced a similar success: by the end of the three-hour period, over 70 students and community members had transformed the scales into mangled sheets of metal.

But quiet expressions of gratitude (even the simplest “thank you”) were the most valuable results for Martin, Hocking and the rest of the organizers.

“I knew without them saying that this was an outlet for them — that this was a way for them to get something out that might have been inside for a very long time,” said Hocking.

 Senior Maxine Johnson, another leader of Active Minds, added, “[T]here are people who aren’t willing to come out and say, ‘Yeah, I struggle with this’ … but it’s nice that they can see that there’s a group of students at Calvin who say, ‘We hear you. You’re not alone. You’re loved, and we care about your struggle.’”