Arsenal MS had another great Lemonade 4 Change project this year. Their team, the Stigma Stoppers, implemented three separate ‘Cool Aid Stands’ in an effort to promote understanding and inclusion among their student body regarding mental illness, particularly concerning the stigma associated with seeking and receiving treatment. The Cool Aid Stand represented three aspects of the project: 1) It’s COOL to talk about mental health & disorders; 2) It’s OKAY to get help; and 3) STAND-well, obviously they were giving something away.
Students designed shirts to demonstrate their unique qualities and represent the Stigma Stoppers. They also added #hashtags to talk more about their cause and encourage other students to talk about #mentalillness and #stigma on social media.
Students had three kinds of Kool-Ade for the students to choose from that the team was giving away for free. Each cup had a question about mental illness or stigma written on it. The idea was that the students would read the questions and this would spark conversations with the team members, as well as their peer groups. Individuals were also given the option to have their drink ‘extra sweet’ if they answered the question correctly and became a ‘life saver’ (the candy) for someone they know that may be experiencing mental health concerns. The team members were there to respond to questions and engaged the ‘customers’ in further conversation about stigma and mental health awareness.
Students also participated in the school’s parent day, at which they had the opportunity to share their cause with parents and school staff, continuing the conversation about mental health.
These students really impressed me this year. Although the training was difficult, they put aside their differences and really came together as a team. They definitely facilitated an impactful project! Thanks, Arsenal Stigma Stoppers and Mr. Bryan!