BVT Students Encourage Community to R.I.S.E. Above
BVT Health Services juniors Mikayla Corda of Grafton and Samantha Cella of Northbridge, Construction Technology junior Josh Luttrell of Mendon and Health Services junior Hannah Licarie of Millbury
The team's R.I.S.E. (Respect Individuality & Self Expression) Above campaign is designed to increase public awareness of the implications self-esteem and self-image can have on health and wellness, particularly in adolescents. According to Mikayla Corda, a Health Services junior and resident of Grafton, the team believes social media has made it particularly challenging for teenagers to develop a healthy self-image in the face of constant images and messages idealizing certain physical and lifestyle traits.
"As a team, we recognized that acceptance is very important to most teenagers, but we believe people shouldn't have to change their image or how they feel in order to be accepted," Corda explained. "Through the R.I.S.E. Above project, we're helping students accept themselves and others for who they are."
In literature created and distributed by the team, students are encouraged to improve their self-image through methods such as getting regular sleep and exercise, creating a list of positive qualities, resisting the tendency to compare their lives to those of their peers, and embracing the characteristics that make individuals unique. In a recent student wellness fair organized by the Community Service Team, members led their classmates through several activities that put the campaign's suggested methods into action, including the creation of a community bulletin board on which students placed handwritten messages describing positive aspects of their personalities.
"Based on the great feedback from our classmates, I think we opened the eyes of a lot of students to the fact that self-confidence can be boosted through positive reinforcement," said Health Services junior Samantha Cella of Northbridge.
A few days after the student wellness fair, the Community Service Team brought the R.I.S.E. Above message to the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Home and Business Expo. With the expo crowd comprised mostly of adults, the team gained new insight into its message's impact on an older audience.
"A lot of the adults who visited our table were very encouraging of our project," Mikayla Corda recalled. "They agreed with us that the increased use of technology can have a negative effect on a person's self-image and confidence."
On May 1, 2015, the team's campaign will be judged against those of other teams from across the Commonwealth during the annual SkillsUSA Massachusetts State Leadership and Skills Conference Championships at Valley Tech. Regardless of whether or not the BVT trio earns a gold medal and advances to the national championship, team member Hannah Licarie of Millbury said there's no denying the R.I.S.E. Above campaign's positive impact on area students, including those on the BVT Community Service Team.
"Not only are we encouraging everyone to have a positive and healthy self-image, but this project has helped us practice what we preach," Licarie commented. "We found new ways to cope with stress, eat healthier, and have a better outlook on ourselves. It's all about being yourself and embracing who you are."
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech creates a positive learning community that prepares students for personal and professional success in an internationally competitive society through a fusion of vigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills. The school’s website is www.valleytech.k12.ma.us.