by KELLEY GUSICH | photo by Soul of Photography

Breathe to Relieve

student_mendes1After an early start as a Daisy, Alexa Mendes has realized a dream that started in kindergarten. With 11 years in Girl Scouts under her belt, this San Dieguito High School Academy student has pursued a Girl Scout Gold Award. Her challenging and timely mental health project is called Stress is a Mess: Breathe to Relieve. Alexa led her team to compile eight quick and easy stress-relieving techniques into a booklet accompanied by three YouTube videos, which have all been uploaded onto her website, To inform others of this new valuable resource, the team worked with the PALs (Peer Assisted Listeners) and ASB to reach out to approximately 1,800 students. The resources were also provided to counselors at other schools to improve the sustainability of the project.

The booklet has been translated into both French and Spanish, and the website has been shared with team members and friends who live or have connections in Paris, Mexico, England, South Africa, Florida, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Texas, New Jersey, and Iowa. “Stress is a global issue that expands far beyond our community,” Alexa said. “As a website that is online, the resources will continue to be available beyond my involvement.”

Name: Alexa Mendes (16)
School: San Dieguito High School Academy
Garde: 11 in the fall
Parents: Susan and Ernest Mendes
Sibling: Jake Mendes (20)
Hobbies & Interests: Basketball, sculpture, leadership, poetry, church activities, and spending time with friends and family


“Completing the Girl Scout Gold Award has been an incredible opportunity for me to grow as a leader and a person.”

student_mendes3As someone who is frequently stressed, Alexa feels passionate and motivated to help others who struggle with the same issue. She hopes the outcome of her project is that more people develop an awareness of healthy stress-management techniques for the ability to have a more vibrant and enjoyable lifestyle, while encouraging others to do the same. “Completing the Girl Scout Gold Award has been an incredible opportunity for me to grow as a leader and a person,” Alexa shared. “Some of the most valuable lessons I learned include the importance of working as a team, the need for organization and clear communication, and not getting caught up in the little details.”

Aside from participating in Girl Scouts, Alexa loves playing school and club basketball, leadership, and helping out at her church. Although her interests are so wide and varied she has yet to choose a field to pursue, she is especially intrigued by psychology and STEAM. But she also enjoys reading and writing, and after high school plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree and higher, depending on her decisions. “This summer I will be taking classes (Introduction to Neuroscience and Fiction Writing) at Stanford University during their summer quarter to further explore my interests.”