On October 26 and November 2, Stand Together programs from Steel Valley Middle and High Schools joined together for their training. We had a HUGE working space, passionate youth, and great ideas abound. Students ranged from 5th to 12th grade, spanning our greatest age difference yet!
This group really enjoyed Ships & Sailors, a movement activity used to emphasize concepts of social distance and exclusion. During this activity, students must created groups of certain numbers while performing specific actions. If they cannot find a group with the appropriate amount of participants or complete the wrong movement, they are eliminated. The game grows more intense as students must leave alliances to survive in the game. It can get pretty rowdy and sometimes physical, but it is important for the students to realize the impact of their choices, even when their actions may be accidental, and the debilitating impact exclusion and isolation can have, especially in regards to stigma and mental illness.
What’s unique about this group is that although the Middle and High schools complete separate projects, they frequently work together, offering support and encouragement, constructive criticism, and active participation in all activities. Sometimes the groups replicate each others events to increase the impact of their efforts at the different age groups. Students find it helpful for older participants to mentor younger individuals and for the high school to be aware of changes and thought processes of the middle school. Our ‘ground rules’ for the trainings focus on these efforts as well, encouraging students to follow the PROCESS: participation, respect, open-mindedness, confidentiality, experience, sensitivity, and Speak up! Speak out! We emphasize the beauty in our differences, but focus on our similarities that bring us together and make us human. We must work TOGETHER to STAND up against stigma and TALK ABOUT mental illness.
By the end of the trainings, students were prepared to facilitate Stop the Stigma! weeks at both their schools.
Mrs. Dunmire-Kuftic’s Middle Schoolers Mrs. Kamnikar’s High Schoolers
Join Steel Valley Middle and High Schools as they Stand Together…Together!
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