While students at Greenway High School have experienced tragedy and loss, they’ve responded with hope and hugs. Teachers and students alike find strength within each other and find support in various ways to cope and recover from loss. The H3 Initiative is one part of these support systems.

Leading with the Heart

Heart works to develop student’s positive association with trusted friend and adult relationships. Greenway teacher, Allison Butterfield, spearheaded this project after reflecting on her work during her summer break.  After researching the benefits of emotional connection for adolescent and teenage development she was shocked. “I read the statistics about the benefit of the need for emotional connection on a daily basis. One statistic indicated that for emotional fulfillment we all need at least 13 hugs per day!” she continued, “I wondered how many of my students get 13 hugs a day? How many don’t get 13 hugs a month, or even 13 a year. Now I had a mission on my hands.”

Relationships support the Head

As we reach the halfway mark of the school year students are beginning to truly buckle down and approach their school work. The trusted relationships students have built with their teachers through the H3 Initiative allows them to connect with their teachers on a daily basis, and come to them with openness and trust. According to the Minnesota Department of Health actions to support the development of youth and teens include, “building the capacity of youth by providing caring relationships, positive expectations, opportunities to participate and contribute, and support for healthy behavior”.  These strong relationships allow them to build toward success at school.

Young people respond with their Hands

Raider G.I.R.L.S. designed H3 buttons for staff.

Raider G.I.R.L.S. designed H3 buttons for staff.

The third “H” Hands, seeks to build service-learning and civic responsibility within the student body. In particular, the Raider G.I.R.L.S. participated in service-learning to make the H3 initiative possible in the beginning of the school year. Together they created H1, H2, & H3 buttons, and invited staff to wear them. These buttons identify the level of comfort that individual staff members have in relation to personal space to students. Over 50 teachers and staff members participate by wearing or displaying the buttons. An H1 button means handshakes exclusively, H2 is high-fives and handshakes, and H3 identifies handshakes, high-fives, and hugs. These personal greetings have adapted depending on individual teacher’s personality and style. One teacher mentioned, “fist bumps, elbow bumps, and ‘dabs’ have also become common with those of us who wear H2 buttons!”

Editor’s note:  This week’s post is from Kayla Schuburt, Promise Fellow with Minnesota Alliance with Youth.  Kayla works at the Greenway High School.