From the February Newsletter: D51 high school students spread kindness, stomp stigma

In a world where a negative act can spiral into millions of similar actions, District 51 high school students are leading the charge to end stigma and enforce the power of positivity by organizing a variety of activities for Kindness is Contagious Week Feb. 13-20.

Kindness is Contagious Week, KIC Week for short, is designed to remind people within our schools and our community to be kind to ourselves and each other. A group of students from each District 51 high school launched KIC Week last year as a way to reinforce the benefits of treating each other well and fighting against the national scourge of bullying. While those elements are still part of KIC Week, this year’s efforts are focused specifically on stomping the stigma of mental illness.

Each high school is marking KIC Week with a variety of activities, from wearing the official KIC Week color of green to handing out free water bottle stickers to literally stomping out the stigma by stomping on balloons filled with hand-written messages detailing people’s struggles and insecurities.

Breaking barriers around the topic of mental illness became a focus among the teens organizing KIC Week following renewed attention to mental health and depression after a near-record number of suicides in 2016 in Mesa County, including the confirmed deaths by suicide of three teenagers. Creating a stronger connection between all five District 51 high schools, offering peer support, and trying to be proactive about mental health are all central foci of this year’s KIC Week, according to one of its organizers, Fruita Monument High School Student Body Association Secretary/Treasurer Veniece Miller.

“We want to create an atmosphere of excellence in District 51, have the community come together, and stomp the stigma of mental illness,” Miller said.

Kindness is Contagious Week will culminate in two activities on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, which students have off for President’s Day.

From 1 to 4 p.m. Monday at the parking garage at Fourth Street and Rood Avenue, anyone can come and put a handprint on a wall to show support for those affected by mental illness. There will be free coffee, hot chocolate and music as well.

From 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, KIC Week Keynote Kevin Hines will speak in the Colorado Mesa University Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public. Mr. Hines is an award-winning, globally known speaker, best-selling author, documentary filmmaker, and suicide prevention and mental health advocate. He has reached millions with his story of surviving a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge and finding a strong will to live and share the joy of the gift of life.

Additional KIC Week events throughout the community include a suspended coffee event at local coffee shops Main Street Bagels, Octopus Coffee, Aspen Street Coffee, Best Slope Coffee, and Mission Coffee. Patrons can buy an extra coffee for someone in need, and the coffee shops will give a free coffee to spread kindness throughout the Grand Valley.

On Wednesday, Chipotle, 2504 Highway 6&50, Suite 300, hosted a fundraiser for a local mental illness organization from 4 to 8 p.m. Chipotle will donated 50 percent of proceeds from each ticket if the customer mentioned KIC Week.

Sponsors of KIC Week include Western Colorado Spiritual Living, Dental Associates of Grand Junction, and Dr. Brian Burton.

For more information, please email grandvalleykic@gmail.com or follow the website
(www.grandvalleykic.org) or these social media handles: fb.me/grandvalleykic (Facebook) or @grandvalleykic (Twitter and Snapchat).