A dedicated group of seventh graders has taken on a new initiative this year at Sacopee Valley Middle School in Hiram, Maine. Led by the middle school’s gifted and talented teacher, Elizabeth Sanborn, the students have started a Tulip Team as part of the Yellow Tulip Project. This is a youth-driven non-profit organization, founded by a former student at Waynflete High School, Julia Hansen. Their mission is to construct a community with a common goal of smashing the stigma surrounding mental illness and helping people who are struggling to feel less alone. In order to do this, and for young people to be able to access help, we all need to start discussing mental illness.
The Tulip Team is made up of eight students (not in this order): Camryn Baron (who initially brought the YTP to her advisor’s attention and has since become a YTP student ambassador) Emma Sanborn, Rorie Littlefield, Mikayla Doyle, Margaret Brewster, Jared Ellingwood, Keira Hicks, and Natalie Tufts.
They are striving to create a healthy school environment in which the importance of mental wellness is recognized and the community is built on a foundation of advocacy, education, and awareness. They have plans in motion to coordinate with the Sacopee Valley Health Center as well!
Their mission is to construct a community with a common goal of smashing the stigma surrounding mental illness and helping people who are struggling to feel less alone.
The Yellow Tulip Project’s signature annual event is the planting of a Hope Garden. On October 23, SVMS middle school students and staff planted a total of five-hundred yellow tulip bulbs in front of the school!
Once the tulips bloom in May, the Tulip Team will conduct a hope ceremony in honor of National Mental Health Awareness month. They also hosted a school-wide assembly on October 24 and were accompanied by the executive director of the YTP, Suzanne Fox, and student ambassador, Marlee Mellen.
Other activities the Tulip Team has begun include giving out yellow ribbons for all staff and students to wear, posting helplines in the bathrooms, and displaying a large Hope Board in the hallway for everyone to share what they are hopeful for. They have also started Music Mondays, where they play a joyful, uplifting song over the intercom as a way to energize everyone for the upcoming school week; Wisdom Wednesdays, where they share a quote and words of wisdom; and Find Out Fridays where they share a fact about mental health, all on the school's morning news TV channel.
The Tulip Team’s goal is to set up the Hope Garden as an annual event at SVMS and to continue spreading the Yellow Tulip Project’s message for many years to come.
Submitted by: the SAD55 Yellow Tulip Project Team
Written by: Camryn Baron and Jared Ellingwood