Vinyl messages increase girls’ positive self-images at Williams/Ledger
Special to Leader-Press
There are still many societal pressures influencing girls today that have them worrying about the way they look, if they will be popular, or will they be perfect enough to be accepted by the majority. According to the Center for Disease Control and National Association of Eating Disorders, by age 6, girls start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. Additionally, around half of elementary school girls are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.
While all of CCISD’s schools offer after school clubs, extra-curricular activities and sports to keep students active, healthy and engaged, Williams/Ledger Elementary chose to take advantage of some available space to boost girls’ self-esteem by using a little bit of vinyl and a die cutting machine.
After seeing a Facebook post where some school custodians used bathroom stall doors to share positive affirmations with female elementary students, principal Marla Sullivan enlisted the help of kindergarten teacher Barbara Kelly who, along with her daughter, Jeyde Kelly, cut the phrases out of vinyl on her die cutting machine. The school then teamed up with Copperas Cove High School DECA members, Sihyeon Stephans and Trina Canion, who volunteered to painstakingly perfectly place every piece of each vinyl message on the doors.
“It’s great because it builds girls’ confidence,” Stephans said. “We’re girls, they’re girls, and I feel it’s a great opportunity for us to help out.”
Some of the messages read, “Happiest girls are the prettiest,” “You can do amazing things,” and “You’re the best.”
“I feel it’s a great way to get the girls’ self-confidence up,” Canion said. “When they get to high school, they aren’t always nice to each other, and this will help get them through it.”
Second grader Cindel Satterfield smiled as she entered the bathroom approached the stall door.
“I like to read the doors all day,” she said smiling. “They inspire people.”
Her teacher, Ann Marie Slaise, agrees that the messages are working to build up self-esteem in the young girls and is creating discussion.
“One morning during a bathroom break, I found two young ladies reading them to each other, and their smiles on their faces were absolutely priceless,” Slaise said.
The school began its High Five program last year greeting each other with the universal hand clap for a job well done and it has successfully spread throughout the student body and among staff resulting in improved morale.
Fourth grade teacher Amy Hunt said she loves that her students can see and hear positivity everywhere on campus, to include the bathroom.
“I can hear them in the bathroom reading the quotes and later on in the hallway and in the classroom using the quotes they have read to encourage their classmates,” Hunt said. This totally makes my heart smile.”