Let’s Talk About It

by Victoria Partridge | Communities In Schools of Mid-America’s Director of Communications

When it comes to picking a blog topic, I always look at what is being celebrated during the month. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and National Bullying Prevention Month. Additionally, Red Ribbon Week is highlighted October 23-31, Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 6-12, and Make A Difference Day occurs on October 26. Looking at these five areas of focus, I see an apparent tie among them.

Before I go into that thought further, I’d like to share a little information on each of the focuses listed above. The first is Red Ribbon Week. For those who are not familiar with this, Red Ribbon Week is focused on drug awareness, encouraging youth to make smart choices to live their best lives. The Red Ribbon Campaign, which began in 1980, provides advocacy and resources, in addition to raising awareness.

Make A Difference Day is, quite simply, an annual community service event held on the fourth Saturday in October. This day emphasizes volunteerism, in addition to other ways of serving one’s community. It has been celebrated on the fourth Saturday in October since 1992.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month was started in 1981 to connect battered women’s advocates across the United States. Since its inception, it has grown to include all victims of domestic violence, including men and children. The month now stands as a call to action to breaking the cycle of violence within the home.

National Bullying Prevention Month was founded in 2006. This campaign acts as a catalyst to keep all youth safe from bullying. This year’s message is one of love: “Choose Kindness, Acceptance, and Inclusion”.

Started in 1990, Mental Illness Awareness Week brings together mental health advocates and organizations to sponsor events that promote community outreach and public education concerning mental illness.

Now that we have a little background on the areas of focus during October, their connection is likely clear. In case you were not aware, the students that Communities In Schools helps are often struggling with challenges that fall into these categories. Many are bearing the weight of anxiety and depression; nearly all of our students have been victims of bullying; some are being exposed to drugs; and, unfortunately, some students are coming to terms with domestic violence.

How can we expect our students to get good grades if we are unwilling or unable to provide them with the decency to find out what their barriers and challenges are?

Sometimes, these students are coming to school, incapable of possibly learning, because all of their energy is going into surviving. How can we expect our students to get good grades if we are unwilling or unable to provide them with the decency to find out what their barriers and challenges are? So many good things can come from a conversation: the start of a safe relationship, the removal of an obstacle, the sharing of a life-saving secret. Every day, I am grateful that Site Coordinators exist and work directly in schools to help students with whatever they need. 

It all starts with a conversation, and a little encouragement, from a trusting adult.

As we continue to move through this month, please keep in mind the areas of focus, and how they might affect the youth in your life. Now is the perfect time to reach out and be that person they need in their lives. I challenge you to reach out to one student and check in with them by the time Make A Difference Day comes around (October 26). If you would like some assistance connecting with a youth in need, please contact us.

Let’s come together, pick each other up, help each other out, and be good humans. And, if something is bothering you, let’s talk about it.