Sources of Strength Turkey Campaign spreads thankfulness

Students+pin+their+notes+on+a+banner+in+Whitman%27s+front+hallway.+Sources+of+Strength+started+the+Turkey+Campaign+to+allow+students+to+write+what+they%27re+thankful+for.+Photo+by+Yiyang+Zhang.+

Students pin their notes on a banner in Whitman's front hallway. Sources of Strength started the Turkey Campaign to allow students to write what they're thankful for. Photo by Yiyang Zhang.

By Yiyang Zhang

The week before Thanksgiving, banners spelling out “thankfulness” in bold letters lined the first floor.  Students were encouraged to add colorful thank you notes on the letters, spreading sentiments of gratitude throughout Whitman.

This was the first Turkey Campaign event, organized by the Sources of Strength club.  The event, which took place Nov. 20-21, invited students to write down what they are thankful for during lunch or breaks in the day. The club then displayed the notes on large thankfulness banners.

The club is part of the national Sources of Strength program, whose mission is to educate others about mental health and advocate for more support systems for teens and young adults. The program’s ultimate goal is to prevent self-harm and suicide.

“The Sources of Strength program is about focusing on the positive things in life and working at maintaining a positive outlook and a positive disposition when things are tough,” Whitman counselor William Kapner said.

The club emphasizes positive thinking and resources from the categories of strengths that can help those dealing with mental health issues, including support from family, friends and mentors, along with healthy activities, spirituality and medical access. The Whitman group specifically organizes campaigns every month to focus on one of the eight categories of strength represented on the organization’s wheel logo, such as the upcoming annual food drive with the theme of generosity.

“These spokes represent all of the strengths that each person can have,” adult sponsor Madeline Golding said. “People don’t necessarily have all of them, but they can always rely on a couple of these positive aspects to get through difficult moments in life so they don’t get to a point of being suicidal or making poor decisions—that’s what we’re all about.”

The Turkey Campaign encouraged students to reflect on the objects and moments in their life that bring them joy, as well as taught them to appreciate what they have. The event was casual and easily accessible, resulting in a high student turnout, club member Lucas Kaplan said.

“Students write down what they’re thankful for, and that in a way can make them feel more connected,” Kaplan said. “What we’re trying to do here is focusing on positivity because a lot of the times people tend to think about the negative aspects of things.”

Although the statements on the thankfulness notes were brief, the topics varied from being thankful for teachers and friends to thanking their pet or appreciating their favorite food.

“It’s a really nice thing to do, and I think people should give thanks more often because it’s a tradition to honor,” freshman Kamila Koralasbayev said.

Sources of Strength hopes that this campaign served their ultimate goal of supporting and empowering students through the power of connection, hope, help and strength.

“This is a way for people to remember what we have in our lives,” Golding said. “Thinking about what you’re thankful for has been proven to bring people to a better mindset because it changes one’s thought process to look at the positive instead of the negative.”