The last two days at Smithtown East HS were awesome.
Logistically, a little challenging, bc there are 400 students per grade, & only 450 seats in the auditorium. BUT the school dedicated a full two class periods to assemblies for each grade level – so we presented to 9th &10th graders for an hour & a half each on Monday, then the same w 11th & 12th on Tuesday.
There is a star at that school – Lexi Albert, who started a @breathecampaignsmithtown & even got Suffolk County to declare November “Teen Mental Health Month.” It’s amazing how much impact student leaders can have.
Two quick stories I want to share that touched me:
1) a young girl came up to me after one of the sessions & asked, w tears in her eyes “So you didn’t deserve those bad things to happen to you?” I thought at first she was specifically referring to ME, essentially saying she felt sorry for me. BUT I soon deduced – she actually was asking for herself, as in – “So, when bad things happen to us, it’s not bc we did something to deserve them, right?” It made me so appreciate that some folks out there think that these life challenges happen to them bc they are being punished for something THEY did. How sad that some feel that way or are made to feel that way. The sigh of relief & change of demeanor was so rewarding when I was able to give her validation that no – nothing that life hands her is “her fault.”
2) A student shared w me that he’s considered the “friendly one” who always has ppl over his house & is always socializing. What he shared was that – no one knows but it’s this way bc he doesn’t like being alone w his own thoughts. Something incredible to consider – something that looks like a strength – might be a cover up for something we’re struggling w. He shared how he hopes this session will allow himself & others to be open about how they struggle so that they don’t always have to look “perfect.”
Thank you once again to the amazing Sophia Valsamos Foundation for their partnership.