Signs of love through the vines of valentines

West’s Youth Mental Health Ambassadors inspire staff, peers with positive, uplifting messages


Naomi Walker

On Feb. 14, students entered a building covered with sticky note hearts and inspiring messages.

Joseph Potts, Reporter

On Feb.14, Valentine’s Day, a group of students covered the hallways with sticky note hearts filled with uplifting messages like “Be the Change” and “Embrace the Journey.” The event was a service project done by Youth Mental Ambassadors as way to celebrate the holiday and make fellow Falcons feel secure and welcomed.

As part of raising mental health awareness and breaking the stigma, I thought it was vital to include youth voice and to empower students to be advocates in their school,” Project AWARE mental health grant manager Farrah Roberts said. “The students began discussing the Valentine’s project in December.”

Aside from being a fun way to celebrate the holiday, the posting of the hearts was also a way to honor the anniversary of the Parkland shooting. One year ago on Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland,Florida, a student named Nikolas Cruz went on a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killing 17 people. The Youth Mental Ambassadors wanted to make sure that the students and staff at West felt appreciated and safe.

“I wanted to ensure to make a fun little event that made students feel safe and feel that somebody cared about them,” senior Zak Keel said. “We go about our day, everyday and sometimes it can feel a bit redundant. So this just kind of breaks that monotony with a little message to give to someone.”

Over 2,000 sticky notes were made for the event and the three ambassador students got up early in the morning to go to school and place the sticky notes on every locker and classroom door. Roberts also helped with the sticky notes by buying them and helping to write about 100 of the 2,000 total.

“So all of the mental health ambassadors are leaders in their own right and we all worked really hard to get this project off the ground,” senior Alexa Christiansen said. ”[Seniors] Zak Keel, Dani Rietz, and I did a lot of the writing, and Zak came in with me so we could put them all up, and Dani put some up too. We actually had other students who weren’t even involved help us in the end because we were running out of time. It was really a team effort to get everything done on time.”

If would like to join the Youth Mental Ambassadors team or help with any future projects, you can come to their meetings held every Monday during advisory. They are open to anyone who would like to be involved.

“I believe heavily in small acts of kindness, whether that be for others, for yourself, or whatnot. That was kind of the message for today,” Keel said.