Why You Matter’s 2019 Campaign Ends a Success


Freshmen participate in Why You Matter’s project, focusing on connections between students

The student-support group Why You Matter’s campaign project this year was a great according to students and staff involved.

The initiative was created three years ago by art teachers Geo Rutherford and Laura Naar as a way for Chelsea to heal in response to the loss of a student. Why You Matter is dedicated to spurring conversation surrounding mental health and wellness in the Chelsea community while prioritizing student safety. The campaign is primarily student driven, but also involves CHS staff members Laura Woodruff, Jason Murphy, and Laura Lutz. A passionate committee of students was created to drive the initial efforts of the campaign allowing the message to be more relatable to the student body. In the first year of the Why You Matter campaign, healing was the primary focus, and the project focused on why each student mattered.

“It was really hard on the students and staff,” said Ms. Naar. “We were scared because two of the students that we lost we saw every day.”

Other staff members are just as aware of the importance of the Why You Matter campaign.

“I hope that people understand that Why You Matter is about school culture and climate and about trying to make a place that we all feel like we belong and we feel okay with who we are,” said Laura Lutz. “[Why You Matter] is not an anti suicide program, although it was a response to losing students. It’s designed to essentially try and make us a community and to help us become a community. It’s about having our school be a place what we want it to be.”

With Why You Matter as a guide, CHS is trying to create a safe environment for students who are struggling with mental health issues with the hope that students will rely on one another for support.

“The first year that we started it, CHS was a different place,” said Laura Naar. “People were looking out for each other and helping each other. We were just supposed to have the photos out for three weeks but the kids begged us to keep them up for the rest of the year.”

This year, Why You Matter decided to continue the initiative for mental health and awareness with a speaker series. The most recent campaign consisted of a series of TED talks meant to spread awareness throughout the student body, trying to prompt students to reflect on how they felt about their school culture and community.

“We took a step back from what we’ve been doing in past years,” Bennett Proegler, a leader of the campaign, said. “We realized we’ve been focusing on the individual rather than the community as a whole. We want to emphasize that we are one big family.”

Students appreciate the focus on community this year, along with the art project accompanying it. Students each pledged to focus on a specific aspect of their lives where they could improve and help others, and they will be hung up in the hallways of the second floor.

“Our school has lost a handful of students to suicide,” said student Jayla Jeschke. “I am thankful that we have chosen to acknowledge this and are choosing to do something about it. It’s made me proud to call myself a CHS student.”