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Middle school students spread simple message of help and hope to others

Students at 2019 PCSD Opening Kick-Off January 13, 2020


Always love your selfie‭. ‬

This is the simple message three middle school students have for their peers and the community‭. ‬

Cheyenne Nowak‭, ‬Hillside Middle School seventh-grader‭, ‬Dinella Messina‭, ‬Greenbriar Middle School seventh-grader‭, ‬and Peyton Giaimo‭, ‬Holy Family Catholic School eighth-grader are cadette members of Girl Scout Troop 71658‭ ‬in Parma‭. ‬For their Silver Award Project‭, ‬which is the highest award a cadette can earn‭, ‬these passionate students focused on anxiety‭, ‬depression and suicide awareness among teens‭. ‬

“The project was about suicide and how we can prevent that from happening because when kids are in depression‭, ‬have anxiety or are broken down in their self-esteem‭, ‬they tend to want to hurt themselves or even commit suicide‭,‬”‭ ‬Nowak explained‭. ‬“So we made a poster that the kids could go up‭, ‬take a post-it note‭, ‬and place their name by their feelings on the board‭. ‬If they‭ ‬put their post-it in a spot like‭ ‬‘I’m in a Dark Place‭,‬’‭ ‬a teacher or adult can talk to them and help them‭.‬”

The students dropped off posters at middle schools and high schools in the district and encouraged schools to use them to start‭ ‬a conversation about mental health among students‭.‬

The girls also had signs made that were displayed in Parma’s parks and in people’s yards that had inspirational messages on them‭. ‬The students visited Cornerstone of Hope and participated in the NAMI‭ (‬National‭ ‬Alliance on Mental Illness‭) ‬walk‭, ‬as well‭. ‬

“We looked up positive quotes and put them on signs so people could see them‭,‬”‭ ‬Messina shared‭. ‬“We did this in September because September is Suicide Awareness Month‭.‬”‭ ‬

They attended the 2019‭ ‬PCSD Opening Kick-Off‭, ‬where they handed out materials from NAMI‭, ‬Life Act and Cornerstone for Hope‭, ‬created a handout with ways to de-stress and resources to help‭, ‬and passed out buttons with the same positive quotes on their yard signs‭. ‬The girls asked people to place their feelings for the day on the board‭, ‬too‭.‬

“We also did a stress test at the kick-off‭, ‬where we had people come up and answer some questions‭,‬”‭ ‬Giaimo expressed‭. ‬“We had 56‭ ‬people take the survey and found that people were stressed and some even wanted to hurt themselves‭.‬”

The girls worked tirelessly on this project and successfully completed all the requirements by the first semester of this school‭ ‬year‭. ‬This is a 50-hour community service project and the main goal was to identify a need in the community and work on a solution to help make their community a better place‭. ‬

“This project was important to me because I had an uncle who committed suicide almost 10‭ ‬years ago‭,‬”‭ ‬Messina said‭. ‬Nowak and Giaimo shared that they have been personally impacted by this topic‭, ‬as well‭. ‬

As they reflected more on their project‭, ‬the girls agreed that they did make a difference in their school and community‭. ‬They also noticed that the topics they researched are things that adults‭, ‬teens and kids are going through every day‭. ‬

“We are never going to be able to stop someone from doing it because we can’t control what they are feeling at that time‭, ‬but I feel like they should be able to talk to someone‭,‬”‭ ‬Nowak expressed‭. ‬“If we can at least try to get through to them that if it’s not ok‭, ‬it doesn’t have to be the end‭, ‬we can help people‭.‬”

“I also noticed that for kids who might hurt themselves‭, ‬we can make a change before they do it completely‭,‬”‭ ‬she added‭. ‬

Something they wish they could do differently would be to ship out care packages or provide tangible support to those who may be‭ ‬struggling to let them know they are loved and wanted‭, ‬Nowak said‭. ‬

“I think it would have also been good to do assemblies at the schools to spread more awareness‭,‬”‭ ‬Giaimo described‭. ‬“I know some kids might not have taken it seriously‭, ‬but there are kids who might really have needed to hear the message‭.‬”

The girls are not shy about learning and discussing tough topics‭. ‬They completed their Bronze Award as junior girl scouts on human trafficking‭. ‬

“I just want people to remember that there is always someone out there that can help you‭,‬”‭ ‬Nowak shared‭.‬

“And there is always someone who cares‭,‬”‭ ‬Giaimo added‭.‬


PHOTO CAPTION:  (‬L‭ ‬‮–‬R‭) ‬Peyton Giaimo‭, ‬Cheyenne Nowak‭, ‬and Dinella Messina ask people how they are doing at the 2019‭ ‬PCSD Opening Kick-Off‭.‬