GTY Students Spread Sunshine on Campus
November 30, 2021
Last fall, when Thetford Academy’s high school Getting to Y teams analyzed the results of TA’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data, they found a problem they wanted to solve: 40% of TA students felt undervalued by their community. Armed with a goal to improve every student’s sense of worth and belonging at TA, the middle school and high school teams began to brainstorm ways to bring a little sunshine into the lives of their classmates–and to show that the TA community cares.
They decided to try “Sunshine Boxes”, an initiative aimed at bringing a little joy to students who might need it. Thinking carefully about what kinds of items would support self-care and also make students smile, GTY students began to pack the first 100 Sunshine Boxes. In mid-November, they set up the boxes in TA’s library and invited their peers to stop by and grab a little “sunshine” if they needed it. Every box was taken, and their first distribution event was a success.
One teacher shared, “I was surprised by some of the kids who took boxes that I wouldn’t have expected to want them. I think it speaks to the Y-team’s thoughtful analysis of the data and great empathy in terms of next steps. They really saw the need and had a great plan for what to do about it.” Another teacher thought it was a great way to connect with students, “I appreciate the opportunity the sunshine boxes gave me to talk with students, even ones I don’t have in class. It was easy to say, ’Hey, you got a sunshine box! What’s your favorite thing in the box?’ and connect with someone you might not otherwise.”
The GTY teams are already busy planning a second distribution in winter, and a third slated for later in the spring. With the long Vermont winter ahead, we are looking forward to seeing more Sunshine Boxes–and the smiles they bring–on campus again soon. Grant funding from the Mt. Ascutney Prevention Project and the Sue Farrell Equity & Access Fund at TA help to support the GTY teams and their student-initiated community impact projects.