Walking around the halls at Oswego High School, you may have noticed a bunch of hearts posted, with a name on each one. This was one of many ideas from BIONIC to help our school with mental health, but where did the idea come from?
These hearts are for students, and each one has a name of a person that is willing to talk to anyone for any reason. The hearts are for people who need someone to talk to, but don’t really know where to go to talk. People from the hearts are more than willing to talk to kids who have nowhere else to go about issues that are bothering them, or just about any other thing that students want to talk about. These names came from a simple idea from one amazing teacher.
Ms. Milica Leone, a science teacher here at OHS, had her students write out 17 names of people that they knew they could talk to. “I chose the number 17 to honor the students and staff at MSD that lost their lives”, Ms. Leone stated. She had come up with this idea after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, and after a friend of hers killed herself.
Upon receiving the 2,200 names from her five classes that her students had written out, she noticed that most of them were OHS staff. Ms. Leone sent an email to all of those staff members, letting them know how much they are valued by their students. And from this, Mrs. Dickson and Mrs. Monn wanted to do something with those names.
Some of the BIONIC students, along with Mrs. Monn, cut over 1,000 hearts from paper. Then, Mrs. Dickson and Ms. Leone wrote all of the names on the hearts. From there, the BIONIC students posted the hearts. Leone remembers, “When I saw the completed thing, I cried, it was the perfect tribute.”
This tribute recognizes people who are willing to talk to students about what is going on in their lives that are not just school. There is still a lot of negative connotations when it comes to mental health issues, which leads to people feeling uncomfortable talking about what is going on. But, with current events that unfold before us and become normal, the issue is becoming more serious.
With the MSD shooter, “in the days that followed there was a lot of talk about the mental health of the shooter, that perhaps if he had gotten help, maybe things would have not ended up as they did,” Leone claimed. It seems that people are needing help more than ever, and are just not receiving that help. Forms of bullying and isolation leave these kids to sit with their mental health issues and let them get worse. But it’s never too late to make friends with a kid who looks like they’re struggling.
These hearts show that there are people all over the school that you can talk to, to release some tension from your brain and have a chance to feel better and breathe. All it takes is a moment of courage to stand up, and be honest about the help you need. It is always okay to ask for help. And as you go about your day, remember to say hi to the kid in your class that you don’t normally talk to much, ask about their day, show that you care.