South Ocean Middle School’s new Health teacher, Shannon Maloney, formed the school’s first-ever Wellness Club at the start of the school year. As part of one of the club’s first initiatives, the 30-plus students, grades 6 through 8, are prepared to promote mental health awareness and anti-bulling measures this Friday, Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents,” she said. “Mental health matters, and we want to send a message to our students that their community supports better health and well-being for all.”
The mission is in conjunction with the nationally recognized “P.S. I Love You Day,” explained Maloney, excited to see the club’s first real program take off. The promo also comes during Spirit Week, which began earlier this week on Monday, Feb. 10, including Pajama, Character, Throwback and School Spirit Days and ending with the “Battle of the Classes” and “P.S. I Love You Day” this Friday.
“Suicide is a major problem right now and something we need to focus more on,” said seventh-grade member Anna Porcelli, who joined the club believing wellness should play a bigger role in education.
In addition to selling hand-sewn purple scrunchies and $10 purple T-shirts featuring the words “Your story is worth telling,” the club members also took the time to write out hundreds of Post-It notes with positive messages for every locker in the middle school.
“We are going to write things like ‘You are awesome’ and ‘You are loved,’” explained sixth-grade member Brittany Santiago, hoping to spread the love to her classmates. “Everyone should feel included.”
Also, according to Maloney, local businesses have decided to participate by decorating their storefronts in purple to support the fundraiser and to raise awareness about the negative impact that bullying and depression have on a community. The club also sold $5 purple ribbons and will hang them along Main Street.
Come Friday, all students are encouraged to wear purple and to promote positivity. All the money raised will go to the P.S. I Love You Day Foundation, founded in West Islip.
“This is becoming really big, and we’re so excited,” added Maloney. “Next year we are ready to make it even bigger and better.”