By Lisa Carolin
The Why You Matter Campaign that was started at Chelsea High School by teacher Laura Naar and is in its fourth year, is trickling down to younger grades in the school district.
On Feb. 18, sixth through eighth-graders at Beach Middle School participated in #WishYouKnew assemblies put on by CHS students.
The #WishYouKnew mental health campaign is a collaboration between Washtenaw County and the Chelsea School District with the goal to address concerns around youth mental health and reducing stigma.
“All Beach students had the opportunity to participate in the same Why You Matter Campaign that high schoolers were a part of last month,” said Beach teacher Amy Doma. “Beach welcomed CHS students who presented a speaker series about what they wish they had known when they were in middle school and gave wonderful words of wisdom for students to hear.”
At the Beach assemblies, a video of individual CHS students sharing personal statements about what they wanted people to know about them engaged the Beach students. Afterward, three CHS students spoke to the middle school students.
Junior Riley Thorburn spoke about her own perfectionism and called it an unhealthy trait, using an example from track team. Thornburn sprained her ankle during a big race and fell before she could get to the finish line.
“My team lost the chance to go to states, and all I could focus on was my failure,” she said, adding that it took support from her teammates for her to stop blaming herself. “These things define us and make us stronger.”
Senior Owen Fahle told Beach students, “Don’t let anyone tear you down for your passion. Life moves by fast. You’re already middle schoolers. Why waste time being something you’re not.”
Senior Madison Brodeur addressed the topic of “self care” and described herself as a bubbly, happy person on the outside, who realized this past school year that she was anxious and stressed on the inside. She decided to write to her guidance counselor at the high school about how she felt.
“It was the best decision I made in my life because I was finally able to get the help I needed,” said Brodeur.
“Students need to know that we care, we are here, and we love them and will support them no matter what,” said Beach Principal Nick Angel. “I am grateful for the work of the CHS team which started the Why You Matter Campaign years ago and its continuation as the #WishYouKnewMovement this year within the Chelsea Schools. Amy Doma’s leadership has helped support this worthwhile journey at our middle level.”
Doma said that after the assemblies, Language Arts teachers gave students a free writing activity in which students filled out a #WishYouKnew card. The cards will be displayed in downtown Chelsea in May, and parents are invited to fill out their own cards.
Both South Meadows Elementary School and North Creek Elementary School will be putting on their own related assemblies.