Oct. 7, 2019 -- Heights High social worker Caryl Yoo wants all students to know, “They are important, they matter, and we are a community who cares. Kindness, a smile, or a hug can change someone’s day.” At the end of September, Yoo and the student leaders of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) coordinated activities for a weeklong effort to spread positivity as part of National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.
Teachers kicked off the week by providing
students with access to critical resources by posting numbers to the National
Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) and the National Crisis Text Line (text home to 741741). Students learned about the
Jason Foundation’s app, A Friend Asks, which provides young people with
specific strategies if they worry a friend might be suicidal. Students also watched the video “The Empty Seat” which deals with
suicide, though they and their families were warned ahead of time. Students for
whom this topic was too sensitive were invited to put their heads down as the
video has no verbal audio.
Tuesday, students were invited to write messages of kindness and encouragement
on Post-It notes during their lunch periods. These were completed by students representing “every grade,
every background, every color, every culture, every family make-up, every
sexual identity and expression, and every belief,” according to Yoo, and were mounted
on a Wall of Kindness in the hallways and cafeteria.
Students were greeted with high
fives and positive messages as they walked into school on Friday morning. Yoo
wanted to reinforce the idea that, “You really can make a
difference in someone’s life by being present, validating their feelings, being
kind and positive, and seeking help.”
The week concluded with a White-Out at Friday
night’s football game, where the team beat Walsh Jesuit 38 to 30. According to
Yoo, “Staff and students have expressed appreciation for shedding light on such a serious topic and making sure every student is equipped to help someone in need or knows how to help themselves.”