Propel: Braddock Hills High School continues to show-up for the Stand Together program-it’s their 7th year! They’ve been with us since the beginning. This year is no different-well, maybe a little different: they have a larger group of student participants! Kudos to past ST teams for paving the way with your previous events!
Returning and new members alike took part in two days of anti-stigma training. Participants asked probing questions about mental and substance use disorders and held in-depth discussions about seeking therapy, stigma, and the barriers students may face when it comes to asking for help and being taken seriously.
The first training workshop was more informal. Students got the facts and de-bunked the myths about mental illness and substance use disorders. They also participated in team-building activities and review games. Not only did this group learn the signs and symptoms of mental and substance use disorders, but they also discussed ways to provide support, hope, and encouragement (‘S.H.E.‘) to their peers.
The second workshop is when the real fun took place. After an intense morning of review, the team revealed what they’d like their peers and staff to know regarding mental and substance use disorders. The group really wants to focus on raising awareness in their school and letting their peers and staff know that it’s okay to talk about mental health (#talkaboutit), #itsokaytonotbeokay, and it’s important to feel comfortable and know where to go to get help (#itsokaytogethelp). Some Seniors in the group are also working on projects that specifically focus on mental health in the Black community and shared their research findings. These Seniors are enthusiastic about using what they learned in Stand Together to aid their projects outside the program.
Propel BHHS never shies away from a grand idea when it comes to project planning! This year is no different. Students really got down to the details of their ideas in small planning groups. Taking what they learned and the experiences they shared, the group presented their ‘Glow Out Stigma‘ week of events to ‘glow up’ support so much that stigma is no where to be found. Another project idea had tacos as a reward for learning about mental health and testing the students’ knowledge: Let’s Taco ’bout Mental Health. In addition, the group is looking forward to more food stands and dress-down days. Raising awareness is the key to eliminating stigma and this group plans on doing just that.
Propel BHHS-your projects never cease to amaze us! Keep up the great work and we’re excited to see your projects in action soon!
Steel Valley Middle School was HARD AT WORK standing up against stigma and promoting unity, togetherness, and inclusion the past few months with their Stand Together Projects. Their theme this year was Under Construction: Breaking Down Barriers. The students facilitated activities that hoped to increase education and awareness of mental illness and stigma, but also work together to engage all students in various activities. In addition, students cross-participated in events with the high school group to gain cohesiveness as a community.
In December, 38 students competed against other ST members in both the middle and high schools in a School SWAP. During this event, the middle school students were paired with high school students and completed various challenges with participation from the rest of the student body throughout the day. MS students tagged along with HS students in the morning, and then vice versa in the afternoon. Along the way, the ‘challenges’ had to be signed-off on by a teacher, staff member, or counselor. ‘Challenges’ included talking about Stand Together, sitting with someone they didn’t know at lunch, posting anti-stigma messages on their social media accounts, and requesting information about resources from the school guidance counselor.
Over the past several months, students also created QR codes and quizlets with interesting information and facts on the different types of mental illnesses and placed them on STAHL newsletters that were posted in the bathrooms every month. Announcements were made and flyers were also plastered all over the school for their cause.
The students’ main project was planning and orchestrating a Glow in the Dark dodge ball tournament for the entire student body on Thursday, February 16. 130 students formed teamed of mixed grade levels and decorated t-shirts with their team’s mental health condition, definition/characteristics/statistics, and places to get help. Teams also created posters with additional information for the event. The winning team members received gift cards. Free hot chocolate was served at their Kindness Kafe and wrist bands were given out to participants reminding them of the “Breaking Down Barriers” message Stand Together wants to instill within the school. “It was a great time,” said Katie Iwaniuk- 8th grade Stand Together member. “Everyone had fun and we were able to spread our message while raising awareness.” Four members of the high school Stand Together team even volunteered to referee the event!
Next, Stand Together will be creating a “Breaking Down Barriers” mural in the middle school with the help of the Art department. Sixty canvases will decorate a stairwell with our message of acceptance & community. Can’t wait to see them!