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

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