Michaela believes in a community where students know they are loved and appreciated. However, in Australia suicide is the biggest killer of young people. It accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents. One in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition, and 26% of Australians between the ages of 16 and 24 have experienced a mental health disorder in the last 12 months.
Michaela’s experience working with young people has made her realise that students do not get regular, positive acknowledgement simply for being themselves.
Say Something Nice encourages students and teachers to take a moment to just.. say something nice.
- She surveyed students about what their preferred form of acknowledgement was. They spoke about the five ‘love languages’, explaining each one, then asked students to name their preferred form of acknowledgement.
- At the end of Term Three, Michaela wrote a personalised note to each student from the test group, highlighting their positive qualities.
- In Term Four, Michaela had these students write a similar note to a peer to ‘pay it forward’.
Michaela worked with 28 students this year, and 75% of those have gone on to ‘pay it forward’, impacting more students.
Of the group of 28, five students wrote a response to the initial sender expressing their appreciation. Two of these students said they had been impacted directly by suicide or suicide ideation and Michaela and her team had phone calls from four parents to thank them for the gesture and initiative.
“A girl named Chelsea responded to her letter saying she had lost a friend to suicide this year, that her Mum had attempted suicide around the same time and, within the same week, her family home burned down. She said the letter came to her at a time when she was feeling particularly vulnerable and had experienced suicidal thoughts. She said that knowing somebody cared and saw something special in her, made her feel ‘seen’ and cared for.”
Like the idea?
Michaela would love your support for Say Something Nice, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and she’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where she can. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with Michaela and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer her on in the comments below as well.
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