PATCHOGUE

Pat-Med middle schoolers celebrate and promote ‘P.S. I Love You Day’

Amid pandemic, mental and emotional health takes priority

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South Ocean Middle School’s Wellness Club is up to over 50 active members from last year’s start of about 20 students. Emotional and mental health, student officers explained, are top priority, especially during a pandemic, making their annual mental health awareness and anti-bulling campaign this Valentine’s Day even more important.

“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among adolescents,” explained health and physical education teacher Shannon Maloney. “To continue our efforts towards suicide prevention, our wellness club members have been dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of mental health in our school and community. Through health education and advocacy, our students have been inspired to act against bullying and put an end to stigmas surrounding mental illness.”

During Wednesday’s remote learning day, students were also challenged to engage in acts of kindness.

The students were also tasked to create well over 500 Post-it notes with positive affirmations. Students will arrive to school able to take a note off the wall and feel good about themselves that day.

The Post-it notes, club members said, include messages like “You’re beautiful,” “We appreciate you,” “You are worth it,” and “Be nice.”

“I think that more people should be aware of the day,” said club vice president and eighth grader Aurora Dougherty, hoping to help spread suicide prevention awareness. “Check up on people you love. See how they are feeling and how they are doing.”

“Mental health is important because if you keep pushing it off to the side, you won’t realize how serious of a problem it can be,” added Shannon Nash, eighth-grade club treasurer. “It’s better to learn young so that you can take better care of yourself as you grow up.”

Last year, the club also promoted the day through raising suicide prevention awareness by selling ribbons to businesses for display on Main Street. However, due to weather, they were unable to sell them, but instead suggested local businesses display purple, the color for suicide prevention, in support. The team was still able to sell T-shirts.

“The school hallway will be a sea of purple with purple Post-its and hearts on doors with purple glitter,” added Maloney, hoping to see everyone sport their purple T-shirts as well.

Photo booth props will also be made available to students during lunch time to take pictures and tag the Instagram account. The group and their initiatives can be followed on Instagram @so.oceanwellness.

Random acts of kindness

“Cook a meal, help a family member out and clean the house," Nikki Trankina, eighth-grade club president suggested.

“Write letters to people letting them know how much they mean to you and that you appreciate them," said Lilly March, seventh-grade club officer said, offering a COVID-safe option.

“Send a text message to family and tell them how much you love them," Gabriella Koch, seventh-grade club secretary, added.

“Make care packages for homeless including masks, socks, granola bars and essentials like soap," Brittany Santiago, seventh-grade club representative, offered of a project she and her mother did.

Club officers and health teacher Shannon Maloney hope their campaign will help promote mental health and self-love ahead of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, with two days of activities scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 11 and Friday, Feb. 12.

Over 500 purple Post-it notes will fill South Ocean Middle School’s hallways during “P.S. I Love You Day,” raising awareness for suicide prevention with positive affirmations.

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