The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest




A collection of colored pens and markers existed in various seminars throughout Northwest March 27, as girls scrambled to fill their half sheet of colored paper with positive pictures and messages for girls they did not even know.

Senior Christina Hayford organized this letter exchange between girls at Northwest, St. James Academy and Holy Trinity Catholic School as her project for the second annual Tom Karlin Foundation Scholarship.

For their project students could choose from the topics compassion, the talk-listen-act, personal experience with depression or suicide or the mental health stigma.

For her project Christina chose compassion to show how students can be a lifeline to their peers. To get started, she emailed Principal Lisa Gruman and the principals at the other schools. Girl Effect helped cut the cards, and Gruman helped distribute them.

“It was a lot easier than I thought,” Hayford said. “When you approach a teacher and say, ‘I want to get this thing started. I want to make as many people as I can smile though this little thing,’ people aren’t really inclined to say no.”

Hayford collected over 900 letters as part of the exchange.

She asked participants to take pictures or videos of themselves with their card and to either email them to Hayford or post them on social media with the hashtag “#positivegirls2015.” She compiled all of the pictures and videos and made one final video as her submission.

“People were super positive,” Hayford said. “People are posting and saying, ‘Have a great day,’ and just sending out that message of positivity. They’re super sweet. A lot of them are about just being yourself. Some of them are jokes or something to make someone smile.”

Hayford’s take on compassion showed not only how peers in the same school can support each other, but how girls everywhere can have an impact on each other. According to Hayford, although positive support is something boys need too, she felt it was something girls really needed.

“A lot of the reasons why people don’t get help when they’re going through things is because they feel like they’re going to be judged for it or they’re going to be alone,” Hayford said. “The idea is, a girl will get this, and, in a little way, be reminded of her value and her worth. Maybe that’ll lead her to take that extra step if she needs to talk to somebody. There’s obviously people who love her, people she doesn’t even know.”

Christina could have chosen any scholarship to apply for, or any other method to spread positivity, but it was important to her that she chose this one.

“ a really great organization,” Hayford said. “ getting a scholarship through something that you care about and you actually want to see make a difference… Hopefully, they feel like they’re getting some kind of return. I want to make a difference.”

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