”I really want all of the kids here to know YOU MATTER! You are important, you would be missed dearly if you were not here and we all love you! Every single one of you! Always remember, today is not tomorrow and tomorrow is not forever, things change, people change and I promise you the fear, anger, embarrassment, hurt that you are experiencing right now will change, get better and go away! BUT, we are here for you if you feel that it won't get better or change or go away! We are here for you - no judgement, no conditions, no punishment!" - Kelly Inez Kilbane

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
”I really want all of the kids here to know YOU MATTER!  You are important, you would be missed dearly if you were not here and we all love you!  Every single one of you! Always remember, today is not tomorrow and tomorrow is not forever, things change, people change and I promise you the fear, anger, embarrassment, hurt that you are experiencing right now will change, get better and go away! BUT, we are here for you if you feel that it won't get better or change or go away!  We are here for you - no judgement, no conditions, no punishment!" - Kelly Inez Kilbane
These are words I found on a new local Facebook page called Post It Now, which was created following a project that took place earlier this week in some local schools.
I would like to start off by introducing you to a wise-beyond-her-years young lady named Brianna LaPlatt, who is a 16 year old junior at Fort Hill High School in Cumberland, Maryland. She told me that she has seen so many people close to her affected by mental illness, and she felt very strongly about something she could do with a group of others to speak up about mental illness and help brighten people's days. She reached out to friends at Allegany High School and Mountain Ridge High School to get groups together to organize something very special.
Well, what these young people did WAS special...compassionate...thoughtful. We hear so much in the news about young people dying, being killed, abusing drugs, committing crimes. We read about it and see it on the news everyday. We all cry, and we get angry and we want to do something. But how many of us actually do do something?
These students did. They pulled together their resources, they worked collectively together to organize a project in each of the respective schools to happen on the same day at the same time. Thus, the Post-Its.
The students decided to take many, many packs of multicolored Post-Its and write brief, uplifting notes. Notes such as "You are my sunshine," You make a difference," "I am glad you go to school here," "You are a very nice person." Notes written to uplift, encourage, motivate, appreciate...notes that perhaps could make a difference between a bad day and a good one...notes that spread happiness and school spirit.
Brianna's mom, Sabrina Thomas, also helped write the notes, and she called the schools to tell them that the students would clean them up.
Once the day and time came, this committee of students put these spirited Post-It notes on every locker in the three schools. When students came out of their classrooms to go to the next class, the hallways were filled with a rainbow of colored Post-Its on hundreds and hundreds of lockers in Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland!
When I heard what these wonderful young people organized and implemented, I was so impressed...so proud. Proud that students had such a common mission to bring awareness to mental health in such a simple, yet impactful way. Did everyone appreciate a sticky note on their locker? Of course not. Was everyone inspired by such a simple gesture? No. But was someone enlightened? Did someone smile? You betcha!!!
One of the committee members told me that after they finished the postings, they all watched students pour out of their classrooms to find these on their lockers. She heard them say things from “This is so sweet!” to “I wish I knew who did this, I’d give them a hug.” Now I ask you, was the project worthwhile?
I say kudos to the parents of each and every one of those who organized this project. Kudos to the parents who are involved with their children's lives, and who take time to encourage them to speak up and stand up! There is no such thing as being a perfect parent in today's society, but these particular parents are doing something right. Their children are evidence of that!
It's never easy to stand up against bullying or to stand up for those who suffer from mental illness. It's never easy to do the right thing. And, it's never easy to continue on with your mission when it seems there are those who may try to stifle your enthusiasm and your creativity. Folks, these were young adults trying to make a difference and setting a precedent for others to follow.
This is just another example of the simple life I write about every single week. Something simple like a Post-It and a pen. Words on paper. The power of positivity. I will take that any day.
Jacki Bray Anderson, one of the moms of a committee member, said this, "I think there were many reasons they decided to do the notes. I think they really just wanted to do something to help when they felt helpless. They wanted to remind their friends and classmates that there is always something positive, even when it doesn't feel that way. The plan for this project was for them to remain anonymous. They did not want this to be about them, they were not, and are not, seeking praise for what they were doing. They wanted the focus to be on the notes and posters to bring awareness the topics of mental health and suicide prevention. Once that focus shifted they decided to speak out and stand up for what they are fighting for. I can tell you that as a parent this has been one of the proudest moments of my life. Our kids do amazing things everyday, but that moment they take part in something so remarkable to help others, and to do so on their own, it fills my heart with an overwhelming happiness that is indescribable."
Yes, Jacki is one of these moms I was speaking about in a previous paragraph. And, even though I don't know any of these parents personally, I will bet that the other parents would speak as Jacki did about the pride they feel about what their children did this week.
One student from Fort Hill said that they are also having a public mental health awareness meeting this Friday evening at the New Covenant United Methodist Church on Frederick Street in Cumberland, and every single sticky note from Fort Hill has been compiled and put together in a large poster that will be hung up there. This whole thing was so well thought out, don't you agree? Impressive young people. Each and every one.
Here's another perspective from another committee member: "We made Post-Its with motivational, comforting quotes, and they were very respectful and made sure there were no names of students who have passed. I believe that mental health awareness needs to be spread throughout schools way more. We shouldn’t walk on egg shells about it anymore. It’s a real problem and this needs to be fixed."
One final note from Kelly, "In light of what has happened on Wednesday in Florida, I believe a group like this is so needed. I am so thankful to each one of you who feel that this is important too! Your posts are awesome and it has been brightening my day! We are all going through things that no one may know about and seeing the words here, the encouragement and love, driving more encouragement and love...spreading hope in a sometimes hopeless world, well, I can't think of anyway better to overcome that hopelessness! My thoughts, prayers and love to all of those in Florida!" Please visit Post It Now on Facebook...one of my go-to visits every single morning. Grab up your moment of good news before you start your busy day!
I was given the full list of all of the kids who participated in either writing the sticky notes or putting them up, although there were a few who chose not to appear in print:
Fort Hill
Brianna LePlatt, Kate LePlatt,Jake LePlatt, Rachel Mullenex, Brandon Hutson, Miranda Teats, Brinkley Powers, Diamond Beardsley, Aleah Spencer, Elizabeth McGuire, Faith Myers, Destiny Yommer, Jade Kasecamp, Emily Arnold, Jared Nelson
Allegany
Allison Atkinson, Andrew Kimble, Chloe Hinkle, Haley Bloom, Dakota Smith, Rose Richards, Maddie Koch, Josslyn Eggers, Sam Kelly, Sam Adams, Kyira Arnold
Mountain Ridge
Nina Lockard, Tabetha Wratchford, Skylyn Mitchell, Tori Packard, Alissa McKenzie, Gabby James
It is a dangerous world, and terrible things happen. We cry, we shout to anyone who will listen. But, in turn, WE need to listen, WE need to stand up for those who are hurting by others. WE need to stand up for those who just can't. WE need to take inspiration from these young people, who took a simple gesture of kindness and sprinkled it around.
Let us ALL do that. Let us learn from their example. Let us be the shiners of light, the sprinklers of kindness, the bearers of genuine thoughtfulness.
Thank you, you beautiful kind-hearted champions. Your light touched me, your kindness moved me and your thoughtfulness awakened me.