We Belong Campaign

 

We Belong Campaign

The purpose of the WE BELONG CAMPAIGN is to create a sense of belonging, connection, inclusion, and tolerance. In Thomas Joiner’s Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behavior, he argues that a failed sense of belongingness is a key component of suicidality. Therefore, activities, messages, and campaigns that foster a sense of belonging amongst students can help to reduce suicide risk. A key component for achieving a sense of belonging is feeling that one’s own unique or special qualities are part of a larger school or community family. We want a young person to be able to say, “Although we may be different, we all belong and have a place within the larger school or community. Our differences make us stronger.” This campaign seeks to create space and opportunities for students and staff to share stories of what makes them unique or special, and then display each individual’s unique contribution as a vital part of a larger whole. By writing or stating how “I Belong,” we can cultivate a sense that “We Belong.”  

 

As in all Sources of Strength campaigns the goal is to create opportunities for the general population to ENGAGE, INTERACT, and APPLY the principles to their own lives and personal context. By creating space to tell personal stories of belonging, the WE BELONG CAMPAIGN contextualizes and normalizes that our school and our community holds a space for everyone and that each unique person belongs to the larger whole.

 

Steps to running a WE BELONG CAMPAIGN:

In a Peer Leader planning meeting, follow the 3 step formula for success: one part fun + one part sharing + one part planning.

One Part Fun

The following games connect to the theme of belonging, connection, inclusion, and tolerance: Human Knot, Yarn Knot, Walk Around Cool, or Hog Call. When the game is finished, make a light and easy teaching point about the importance of belonging in our lives, or the importance of asking for help, of using our voice etc.

One Part Sharing

Intro

Read the campaign introduction to your Peer Leader team during a planning meeting. Explain how this campaign is designed to create belongingness, connection, inclusion, and tolerance.

 

Reflection

Handout the WE BELONG cards and ask Peer Leaders to think about something that makes them special or unique. Fill in the blank on the card with something that gives you a sense of belonging. Give the Peer Leaders and Adult Advisors about five minutes to think about and write this story.

 

Sharing

Go around the circle and allow each Peer Leader and Adult Advisor to share what they wrote on their card, saying, “I am blank, and I Belong”. Once everyone in the group has shared, end with the whole group saying in unison, “We Belong”.

It is important that Peer Leaders are able to internalize the campaigns and the Sources of Strength in their lives, thus making the campaign much more powerful and impactful.

 

Peer Leader Pledge

Invite Peer Leaders to sign the We Belong Pledge. Then go around the circle and have each student read a few words of the We Belong Pledge. Peer Leaders have the option of creating a quick video of Peer Leaders reading the We Belong Pledge and then posting it to social media.

 

One Part Planning

Now spend some time as a larger group, brainstorming ideas for the WE BELONG CAMPAIGN and how your Peer Leader team can engage the rest of the school/community in sharing their unique stories that contribute to the larger whole or school family. Once your group has done a little large group brainstorming, break them up into smaller groups (depending on the overall size of your group) and have them brainstorm around specific mediums: wall displays and art, video, social media, announcements and print media, and school-wide activities. Below are a few suggestions for each medium. These suggestions should function as a guide, helping your Peer Leaders to come up with safe and effective messages. It might be useful to share some of these ideas with each specific group.

 

We Belong Wall Display

Mosaic

  • create a Mosaic with students unique contribution on a tile and then place them on a wall or board

Photo Wall Display

  • group photos placed on wall to spell out “We Belong”

Puzzled Together

  • pieces with students unique contribution that are fit together into a wall display

We Belong to the Bigger Picture

  • Cards that create a larger picture when they are put together into the right sequence. Each card has a background image that only makes sense when they are all put together. Numbers of sequence on the back of card.

 

We Belong Videos

Time-lapse We Belong

  • Time lapse of someone putting a puzzle together with voice over of people sharing times when they didn’t fit in and then found belonging

We Belong Statements

  • Short video cuts of students saying, “I am blank and I Belong”. Video ends with group saying, “I belong (one student), You belong (two to five students), We belong” (big group).

Group Video

  • Time-lapse of students spelling out the words “We Belong,” either with a large group shot from above or with students lying down on the ground.

Vignette We Belong Stories

  • Longer interview with students asking them, “How do you know when you belong?,” “What makes you feel like you belong?,” or “Tell us a story of a person or a time when you felt like you belonged”.

 

We Belong Social Media Challenges

#webelong

  • Use this hashtag to cultivate a conversation around belonging. Ask students to post about what makes them special or unique.

I Belong Challenge

  • Post a picture of a person or place that makes you feel like you belong. Write a statement about why you chose that person or place.

Selfie/Ussie Challenge

  • Take a selfie or ussie with your card(s) and post it with a statement #webelong. Tag five friends to post their we belong selfie/ussie and we belong statement.

We Belong Challenge

  • Ask fellow students to post group pictures, using their bodies or other creative ways to spell out the words “We Belong.”

Opposites Attract

  • Post a picture of you and an unlikely friend, someone different than you but through friendship have overcome those differences.

 

Announcements or Print Media

Stories of Getting Involved

  • Collect and publish or read over announcements, stories of how you got involved and belong to a group at your school.

New School Stories

  • Collect and publish or read over announcements, stories of students who transferred and how you came to belong at your new school.

Thank You Stories

  • Collect and publish or read over announcements, stories thanking a person for making you feel like you belong.

What Changed Stories

  • Stories of times you didn’t feel like you belonged and what helped or changed; i.e., you got involved in a group, someone reached out to you, you found an interest that connected you to people, you found new friends, a teacher took an interest in you, time passed and things got better, etc.

 

School-Wide Activities

Meet Someone New

  • Everyone wears four colors of name tags with names. During break students have to find someone who has the same color on name tag, learn their name, and find something you have in common with them. Encourage Peer Leaders to reach out to isolated students during this time or students they have never talked to before.

Mix-it Up Lunch 

      • Cafeteria workers hand out slips of colored paper as students go through the lunch line. Students sit at tables marked with that color. Encourages students to meet new people and engage in lunch time conversations with students outside their normal friend groups. 

Puzzle Pieces

  • Print out large four piece puzzles (1 shape for each grade level). Instruct students to find 1 student from each grade, fit puzzle together, and share something unique or special about you. Write it on a card and post it to the wall.

Human We Belong

  • Spell out “We Belong” or just “Belong” with people and take a picture from above. Use a drone or take photo from the school roof (get permission first).

Photo Booth We Belong

  • Set up photo booth and take pictures of of individuals or groups, then create a mural with all the pictures spelling out “We Belong”. This could include chalk boards and chalk where students within a group or a group as a whole can write down things that make them who they are.

We Belong T-Shirts

  • Spray paint or tape one letter from the letters “We Belong” on each shirt – then find other students who have the letters you need to spell out “We Belong”. Take a fun “ussie” and post it online (incentive – fastest groups win a prize).

Poem or Lip Sync Competition

  • Poems or songs reflecting on what makes you special or unique. Poems or songs that capture the ideas that we all get to be apart of the school family no matter what.

Belonging Survey

Strength Specific Campaigns

 

 

Strength Specific Campaigns

The possibilities for creating events and campaigns to raise awareness of strengths are endless! We are constantly impressed by the creativity and insight of Peer Leaders and Adult Advisors to come up with great ideas that can change their school’s culture for the better. Here are a few ideas in each category to help you get started:

 

Family Support

  • Make a Family Tree and write down the positive qualities or things you appreciate about each of the members of the tree that you named. This could be Peer Leader’s actual family members or their “chosen” family.
  • Create a paper chain. On each link, write the name of someone in your family (the one you were born into, or the one that you chose) that you feel supported by. Pass out pieces of paper to everyone in the school, either in classrooms or the lunchroom and then add each piece to the paper chain. Display it in the school or community space.
  • Use the hashtag #SOURCESOFSTRENGTH and have people post pics of their fam- whatever that looks like for them, and print them up as posters to hang around the school.
  • Host an awkward family photo competition where students are invited to find a funny picture of their family (the one you were born into, or the one that you choose), and then to post that photo to social media (#sourcesofstrength), with a comment about how your family supports you.

 

Positive Friends

  • Challenge everyone in the school to meet 5 new friends and learn 2 truths and a lie about each of them.
  • Host a school-wide kickball tournament. Each Peer Leader is a team captain, but you have to find 5 people you don’t know to participate as your teammates.
  • Hold auditions for a lip-sync battle: all band names and songs have to be about friendship.
  • Host a MOTH-style story slam, where Peer Leaders tell powerful stories of unexpected friendships.
  • Invite the Literature/Language Arts Departments to get involved. Assign an essay about unlikely friendships, using novels, essays, and poems that tell stories of positive friendships that changed people’s lives.

 

Mentors

  • Host Dress Like your Mentor Day, then host a fashion show, voting on who captured the essence of their mentor the most.
  • Mentor Madness Bracket: Have the student population submit list of mentors/trusted adults in the school and/or community. Help the Sources team rank them in a March Madness style bracket with fun activities, feats of strength, challenges during lunch or passing periods. Advance different mentors to the championship round and each year give out a trophy for the winning mentor.
  • Throw a mentor’s parade and invite local mentors to the school to accompany high school leaders at the local middle or elementary schools. This can build community and celebrate the impact of mentors (6th grade reading buddies, coaches, YL leaders, etc.)
  • Set up a speed-dating style Mentor event, where different adults in the community who have a desire and a capacity to mentor a student can meet them in a safe way, creating space for connection.

 

Healthy Activities

  • Set up a photo booth and have students bring in props to showcase what their healthy activities are.
  • Do a Mannequin Challenge video down the halls of the school where everyone is frozen in the pose of their favorite healthy activity.
  • Create an art contest for healthy activity submissions: photography, spoken word, painting, poetry, music, etc.
  • Create partnerships with local organizations and have school-sponsored nights at bowling alleys, mini-golf courses, volleyball courts, waterparks, and amusement parks, etc. Have people post selfies to show how your school is tapping into their strengths.
  • Set up different rooms in the school featuring the healthy activities preferred by students on the outsides of the social networks, not just the traditional (or more sporty) joiners. Rooms could include a video game room, board game room, Iron Chef-style cook-offs, instrument jamming room, etc.

Generosity

  • Start a Random Acts of Kindness campaign so that the domino effect is seen (or the tidal wave, or snowball effect), showing more and more kindness catching on.
  • Host School Supply Drives, Winter Coat and Glove Drives, Food Drives, etc. as is seasonally appropriate.
  • Set up a volunteer board next to the jobs board at the school. List opportunities for students to help others with homework, tutoring, yard work for the elderly, carpools for underclassmen, etc.
  • Create a Get You Some Generosity wall display (could be renamed, Generous&See, Get Generous, Be Generous, Giving is Living, Share is Caring, etc…), where Peer Leaders write acts of Generosity on post-it notes so that other students can take a note off the wall and then go and participate in that act of generosity. This activity focused on inviting other students into acts of generosity.

Spirituality

  • Run a Thankfulness Challenge.
  • Survey the entire student body about their top 20 things they are thankful for, then compile the list to highlight how many similarities there are among the students.
  • Host an assembly where a diverse range of spiritual practices are showcased. This will require some prep to ensure that the event doesn’t function as an evangelistic tool of one set of beliefs or practices. Instead, highlight the beauty that each spiritual practice offers the person.
  • Invite the Literature/Language Arts Departments to get involved. Assign an essay about rites of passage in various cultural and religious practices, then have the student body create a rite of passage for students as they move up a grade level or as they graduate.
  • Draw a tree with branches moving out. Hand out colored paper in the shape of leaves and have students write down things that they are thankful for, posting them on the branches when they are finished.
  • Create an art contest for spirituality submissions: use photography, spoken word, poetry, or music to complete the sentence, “I feel connected to something bigger than myself when I ________________.”
  • Have each class start with a three minute mindfulness exercise, gratefulness challenge, or a breathing practice.

 

Medical Access

  • Host a panel of medical practitioners to talk about access to care during an assembly or in classroom presentations.
  • Create a poster campaign of students with stereotypical physical injuries to make a connection between getting medical access, and using mental health resources, i.e., the hockey player with a blacked out tooth saying- “If I lost my tooth, I’d go to a dentist, and when I lost my way, I went to the school counselor.”
  • Host a blood drive on campus or do an organ donor drive on campus.

 

Mental Health

  • Survey the student body to see what helps them manage their anxiety, then create opportunities for those stress-relievers to be on campus during finals week (yoga, dogs to pet, open gym, etc.)
  • Create a de-stress space at the school, where students can hang out when they are wrestling with one of the Big Three Emotions – Anxiety, Anger, Depression.
  • Host a viewing party of the movie Inside Out and have the Peer Leaders facilitate a Q&A about managing big emotions in response.
  • Host a community night where students and their families could learn more about mental health resources in the area.
  • Create a video contest for mental health submissions: use videos (imagery/scripts/songs) to tell a story of how Peer Leaders manage big emotions. Remember to keep it focused on Hope, Help, and Strength.

CONNECT CAMPAIGN – Friends Connect Friends to Help

 

The purpose of the CONNECT CAMPAIGN is to create positive social norming that breaks down codes of silence, secrecy requests, and increases help seeking. This is accomplished by creating space and opportunities for students and staff to share stories of times they either got connected in a time of difficulty, or connected someone else who they saw was struggling. As in all Sources of Strength campaigns, the goal is to create opportunities for the general population to ENGAGE, INTERACT, and APPLY the principles to their own lives and personal context. By creating space to tell personal stories of connection, the CONNECT CAMPAIGN contextualizes and normalizes help seeking and the importance of getting connected during difficult times.

Steps to running a CONNECT CAMPAIGN:

In a Peer Leader follow up meeting, follow the three ingredients to success of one part fun + one part sharing + one part planning.

One Part Fun

There are a number of games that could illustrate a teaching point around connection. For example, you could run Human Knot, Yarn Knot, Walk Around Cool, or Hog Call and make a light and easy teaching point about the importance of connection in our lives, the importance of asking for help, using our voice, etc.

One Part Sharing

Pass out the CONNECT CAMPAIGN cards and give the students instructions to think about and write down a story of a time “I GOT CONNECTED” by someone who reached out and provided help or guidance or support. Or, briefly describe a time “I CONNECTED” when they helped connect someone to help, resources, or services. Encourage them to keep stories of connecting others confidential so we are not broadcasting someone else’s difficulty; we can use general terms like “I CONNECTED my friend/brother/another student, etc.”

Give the Peer Leaders and Adult Advisors about five minutes to think about and write this story. Then have them turn to someone next to them or form small groups and share about their connection story. It is important that Peer Leaders are able to internalize the campaigns and the Sources of Strength in their lives, thus making the campaign much more powerful and impactful.

One Part Planning

Spend some time talking about the CONNECT CAMPAIGN and how you can engage the rest of the school or community in sharing stories of getting connected, of asking for help, of providing help, and of connecting to counselors, teachers, friends, spirituality, medical or mental health care, etc.

You can use the CONNECT CARDS, colorful yarn, and pushpins or tape to create a powerful visual wall display around the importance and extensiveness of connection in your school. Give students and adults in your school the CONNECT CARDS and have them write their stories of getting connected or connecting someone else. Collect and review these cards for appropriateness and confidentiality.

Once you have many positive cards, have your Peer Leaders create a web of connection by taping or pinning a CONNECT CARD and piece of yarn to the wall. Run the yarn to another point on the wall and pin the yarn again with another CONNECT CARD. Continue in this fashion until you have a vast display of stories of connection that are all connected by the thread of yarn, creating a powerful visual art display. This can help facilitate conversation and reflection and serves as a normalizing tool that says, “In our school, we get help, we ask for help, we are connected and we connect one another to help when needed”. Consider posting resources for connection next to the wall display so students can find who their counselor is and how they can connect with them. You may also consider posting some photos along with the connect cards (like a Polaroid of the people involved) to add some depth and personality to the display.

You can supplement the connect campaign with social media posts about connection using the hashtag #CONNECTCAMPAIGN, through classroom presentations, or even by creating smaller displays in individual classrooms, through connection nights or events at the school, and any number of other incredible and creative ideas you come up with. Don’t forget to share your Connect walls and campaign ideas with us on our social media channels by hashtagging #sourcesofstrength