You be You group empowers students, focuses on mental health

by Emma Hibdon

“It (You be You) empowers and encourages students to talk about positive self image, to have confidence in themselves” – senior Rianda Wenther on goals of the You be You campaign

Started by the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition, You be You is a mental health and awareness initiative in its first year at BSHS.

“It is an initiative that is trying to improve self-concept and mental illness in high school students,” teacher and Student Senate sponsor Danielle Knoll said.

The You be You initiative has many goals to implement in the BSHS community.

“The goal of the campaign is to equip teens and student leaders with the necessary tools needed to get their fellow classmates and friends to talk comfortably and safely, about mental health and illness. It empowers and encourages students to talk about positive self image, to have confidence in themselves, and overall just provide a foundation for the discussion of mental health and suicide awareness,” senior Rianda Wenther said.

The campaign has a central message it shares with students and staff.

“It works to implement the message “you be you” into schools and to encourage and promote a positive self worth and value to teens and a message to believe that it’s okay not to be “perfect” and that being yourself is good,” Wenther added.

The initiative works hard to have a lasting impact on students.

“You be You gives our middle and high schools the tools to run year long positivity campaigns to make school a more mentally healthy environment,” Seife said.

Student Senate members and nominated You be You Ambassadors do a majority of the work. You be You works with the student body leaders to improve the overall school environment.

“You be You isn’t its own group, rather a project of Senate’s and as a member of Student Senate, we are the student group dedicated to managing this program at BSHS. Since the plan as of now is to continue You Be You for next year, any students wanting to get involved should join Senate! If that is not an option, Senate is always looking for suggestions so they could always simply tell us their ideas,” Seife said.

Although this initiative has only been in place for a little over a full school year, the students involved have been able to plan and complete multiple projects so for.

“Personally I have helped in, running the Mental Health spirit week last November, organizing the speaker Kyle Sheely we brought in, representing our You Be You program in a recent interview with NBC, organizing our monthly You Be You Ambassador program, and speaking to middle school students at Brittany Hill about the program.  Our current and final project for the year is our You Be You Ambassador program that recognizes teacher nominations of students that are a positive influence on BSHS. They make campus a better place to be, so we thank them with a pizza party and free “You Be You Ambassador” t-shirt,” Seife said.

Other projects have been more local to the campus and personal to the students.

“We came up with the You be You spirit week, with spirit days to go along with the overall message of the campaign. One of those days, we passed out candy and baked goods to students around the school just to show our love and appreciation for them. Later in the school year around November we had the opportunity to have a speaker come to the school and give a speech centered around the same central message of the campaign,” Wenther said.