Posted by: JanF | March 31, 2011

Words matter

Today’s post is a video reminder.

I came across a letter to the editor in my local paper about a project called Words Hurt Week, a program organized by a student from Appleton Wisconsin. The local paper talked about its implementation at Madison West High School:

The phrase “Words Hurt” has been seen and heard this past week at West High School, which is participating in a project of that name created by Maria Peeples at Appleton East High School. The goal is to remind people of the power words hold, and how hurtful they can be.

Maria Peeples won a leadership award for her work in 2009. Here is her story in her own words:

In 2009, as the co-president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Appleton East High School, I traveled with our GSA advisor to Washington, D.C. for the National Equality March in October. I was given the opportunity to give a speech at an event the day before the march on the topic of depression and suicide among LGBT youth. After this incredible experience, we brought the energy back to our GSA, growing the size of it exponentially and increasing our presence at Appleton East. Our proudest accomplishment this year was the execution of a school-wide “Words Hurt” Week, an anti-slur campaign that received recognition throughout the state and has been a model for nine other schools so far in the area.

I am a strong believer in the idea that words matter: how we say things, the words we choose (or don’t choose) and how we communicate them are all very important.

So I set my Googles loose on “Words Hurt” and I found two things. One that made me want to cry and one that startled me.

I found a video titled “Words Matter” from Madison East High School, a school that is more diverse than most in the area. The kids shared their feelings via postcards they sent to PostSecret and also via a white board.

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My Googles also found this Public Service Announcement titled “Words Hurt” created for an anti-bullying project:

Yikes! Sometimes a video can convey things that words can’t.

Words can hurt and words can also delight. Share them with others but remember: choose them carefully because they really do matter.

(A version of this was originally posted on 03/31/2011 at BPI Campus)

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