Lumen Scholar Institute’s students can’t reach out to their 8-year-old selves. So they’re doing the next best thing.
“Everyone I know has had a problem with isolation,” said Emma Richardson, a junior at Lumen Scholar Institute.
The Orem-based public charter school wanted to find a way to help lower suicide rates in the community for its annual service project. The students thought about what they’d tell their younger selves, and realized they could, in a way, by addressing students at local elementary schools.
The result has been Reach Out, a project in which students will make thousands of bracelets with the motto, will speak in local elementary schools, will write letters to other students and will host a leadership conference to help further spread the message.
“They all said they wanted to help kids feeling bad about themselves,” said Allison Richardson, the auxiliary coordinator for Lumen Scholar Institute and Emma Richardson’s mother.
The initial goal was to make 1,000 hope bracelets. But then additional schools showed interest in the project, and it grew. The Lumen Scholar Institute students have made 1,300 bracelets, with the capacity to create 10,000.
The bracelets are made from paracord wrapped around a 3D-printed washer that reads “reach out.” The goal is that the program will be preventative and will help elementary students learn to make connections in order to avoid isolation.
There are eight elementary schools signed up so far. Allison Richardson said that isolation starts in elementary school, and current mental health initiatives aren’t working fast enough.
The high school students talk about getting upset when things don’t turn out their way, being concerned with how many friends they have or feeling isolated even in a crowd. It’s a message the school hopes resonates with the younger generation.
“They can make a difference in their own lives,” Allison Richardson said.
Dozens of students tied the bracelets Thursday at the school, cheering as they passed 100 bracelets in one sitting and singing out the chorus of “Sweet Caroline.”
A leadership conference in January will bring together local student leaders to train on the project. Business Promotions in American Fork has also offered to help the school film a video and launch a website, which will eventually be available at http://reachoututah.org.
The Lumen Scholar Institute students are passionate about the project after experiencing isolation and its effects in their own lives.
Gideon Warnock, a junior, said he’s gone through hard times where he’s felt disconnected from others. What helped, he said, was people reaching out to him and making connections with his community.
“I feel like isolation, the reason why it’s such a huge problem is people lose hope,” Warnock said.