In today’s fast-paced world, it remains a daily struggle to find time to focus on our own well-being while also juggling daily duties and obligations. Whether it is your career, academics, relationships, or other various commitments, maintaining your mental and emotional health often falls by the wayside. This is especially difficult for teenagers growing up in the age of digital technology and social media.
For recent Wheeler High School graduate, Zac Adkins, it was by overcoming his own personal challenges and obstacles that he fully realized the importance of prioritizing mental health and physical wellness. This inspired him to start his own business, One Percent Harder (OPH).
“I started One Percent Harder because I was physically and mentally tired and needed to make a change. Taking small steps was a perfect way to keep working towards my goals without getting overwhelmed,” Adkins said. “Life is busy and people are constantly taking on so many things that they forget to focus on themselves…One Percent Harder encourages people to focus on both mental and physical wellness.”
From there, what simply started as merchandise and attire being sold to remind others to work “one percent harder” each day towards improving their mental health quickly grew into a school-wide movement. When students took notice of him wearing his merchandise every Wednesday and heard his story, sales increased and others began to join him in providing mental health awareness.
Once Principal Paul Gillihan noticed its popularity, he encouraged Adkins to launch a club devoted to helping other teens take care of their personal issues. Known as the OPH Club, Adkins continues to work hard to assure others that “they are not alone.”
“After talking to fellow classmates and friends at church, I knew I needed to create a community where we keep each other accountable and work towards our goals,” Adkins said. “…Talking about mental health is very important in today’s busy, high-pressure world.”
The school’s OPH Club serves as an accountability group that discusses a specific topic and challenges participants to set goals and work each day to achieve them. It creates an open forum for teens to talk about issues in support of each other.
In support of evangelizing the notion that mental and emotional health is equally as important as physical health, the club is currently raising funds for a professional mental health counseling initiative at the school. While Adkins continues to donate 10 percent of his merchandise proceeds to the OPH Fund, he is working hard to receive further support from the community to help hit their ultimate goal of $50,000.
“East Cobbers can help first by talking about mental health. It is most important that teenagers know that it is okay not to be okay,” Adkins said. “People care more about you than you know and the first step is to make more people aware of the mental health crisis.”
The fund is steadily growing to provide every Wheeler student in need with access to a counselor with whom they can speak openly. Adkins ultimately hopes that more East Cobb schools will follow suit and implement their own OPH Club into their program.
“I will help set up the club at any school that wants an OPH Club to be a part of their system,” Adkins firmly stated.
To learn more about One Percent Harder, purchase merchandise, or see how you can donate, visit www. OnePercentHarder.com or follow and interact with @onepercentharder on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.