Green Ribbon Week 2019

West Orange High School students stood up to recognize and encourage positive mental health for adolescents during the 2nd annual Green Ribbon Week, held September 9-13th


Devin Wilkes, Editorals Editor

In a collaborative effort with the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, a public health and social action organization, the Student Council and GrassROOTS student representative sophomores Marley Dias, Amina Anekwe, and Mariana Simpson worked to have students join the discussion about mental health, suicide, and how to get help.

Dias felt inspired to create this project when she was dealing with the  stress that unfortunately a lot of teens go through during the back-to-school season.

“I find myself stressing out a lot about both my social and academic life,” she described. “I am lucky enough to be able to use my parents as a resource to work out these stressors, but a lot of other kids are not. I want to be able to help kids that struggle just as I do and create safe spaces within schools and other institutions to show that mental health matters.

With the support of her GrassROOTS community, Dias developed this mental health initiative during a fellowship program with RWJBarnabas Health back in 2017, and they were able to host their first official Green Ribbon Week last year.

“The overall goal of Green Ribbon Week is to promote positive mental health practices,” Dias stated. “So, we encourage students and kids to breath and talk it out, and we tell adults to stop and listen to kids in their life.”

Throughout the week, students were able to find many resources and activities near the Tarnoff Cafeteria that help nurture one’s mental well-being. This included a handful of recommended strategies that are proven to reduce stress, such as exercising, eating a good meal, and meditating. There was also a lot of information available relating to the current state of mental health in teens across the nation.

Students also supported the call-to-action by wearing green all week. GrassROOTS and Student Council especially encouraged the student body to wear green on Thursday, and more than half of the school population participated. This year’s Green Ribbon Week was undoubtedly a successful one, and it is only expected to expand in the years to come.