EAST AMHERST, N.Y.–
Students at Williamsville East High School are sending a message through art. They held a paint splash outside the school today in recognition of the “Sources of Strength” program. It’s a national suicide prevention program and the school’s taken part in it for the past four years.
Students pledged to break the silence if someone they know needs help. They threw balloons filled with different colored paint at a white canvas to make a piece of art.
“You’re not alone. That’s basically what our poster is for,” Junior Mary Recktenwald said. Recktenwald is one of 30 peer leaders at the school for the “Sources of Strength” program.
“We are the ones with the voices who are able to go talk to these kids that are having these issues,” Recktenwald said.
The students reach out to classmates in need of help. The goal is to break the silence and get professional help when need.
“I like that I can be there to support people my age and young adults who are struggling and don’t really want to go and find help from someone they feel is going to judge them,” Alexandria Palmerton, a senior peer leader, said.
“We want to make sure our students know we’re looking out for one another and if someone is struggling. We want to make sure they’re coping in healthy ways,” Jill Kasprzak, a school psychologist, said.
Kasprzak said Williamsville East High School hasn’t seen a suicide tragedy, but she and the students are aware it’s a problem around the country.
Palmerton said she’s helped classmates about five times, including a friend who she said was seriously struggling.
“She told me that because I was there it was a very important part of her getting better, and she did go and got help and is better now,” Palmerton said.
Every color of paint represents one of the eight sources of strength. It makes up a bigger picture that will eventually hang inside the school. Students said it serves as a constant reminder of the strengths to pull from.
“[I want them to know] that there is help out there, and we would love to help you,” Brennan Mawhinney, a junior, said.