Midland's Violence Prevention Partnership works with students to raise awareness
In a week that included a tragic local gun death and a nationwide student walk-out from high schools in response to the horrific shooting at a Florida school, Midland's Violence Prevention Partnership, facilitated by the Midland Area Community Foundation, oversaw several efforts to bring awareness to issues such as bullying and violence to local students.
"The Week of Nonviolence is something we've done for several years, with great support from Midland area schools," says Jackie Warner, member of the Violence Prevention Partnership. "Our students are very impassioned by these issues, especially lately with the conversation going on at a national level."
Students from area middle schools organized events to get their peers thinking about how they can be more mindful of their behavior toward one another. Northeast Middle School students created an enormous banner made of sticky notes with a simple message: BE KIND. They also hosted activities focusing on anxiety and stress. Jefferson Middle School students chose to sign an anti-violence pledge and raised awareness by wearing "wacky socks". Meridian Jr. High students made an effort to switch who they sit with at lunch in order to develop better relationships with their peers.
At the high school level, students from Dow High handed sticky note compliments to each other or posted them on lockers. Meridian students created a paper chain with statements about what makes a good friend written inside. Bullock Creek students held similar events.
"We know that depression among our students is the highest it's ever been," says Warner. "Bullying can still take place on the playground, but increasingly it comes from behind a screen, where it can be just as public and painful. We hope to encourage students to think twice before bullying, speak up when they see violence and threats of violence, and lift each other up through positive words and actions."
The Violence Prevention Partnership is a project of the Midland Area Community Foundation, with representatives from local schools, healthcare professionals, and nonprofit agencies.