East High School Students, Community Support Yellow Ribbon Program

East High School Students, Community Support Yellow Ribbon Program

Chain of Life

Students at East High School recently created and displayed a Chain of Life in support of the Yellow Ribbon Program, an international organization that addresses teen and youth suicide through education, awareness, and training.

The Yellow Ribbon Program was formed in 1994 by the parents and friends of a teenage boy living in Colorado who took his life inside of his beloved yellow 1968 Ford Mustang. The teen, Mike Emme, did not know how or what to say to someone to let them know he needed help. Following his death, Emme’s family and friends gathered and created hundreds of messages of hope and encouragement to reach out for help on yellow pieces of paper. They attached yellow ribbons to each message and shared them at Emme’s services. By the end of the services, all of the messages were gone and on their way around the United States, where they were being given to people in times of need. Recipients of the messages made calls and wrote letters to the Emme family, and the Yellow Ribbon Program was formed.

East’s Chain of Life was made of yellow strips of paper connected by hand to form a long chain, and it was placed along the top of a three-story stairwell inside a heavily accessed area for the entire school community to see.

The Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club coordinated the initiative, beginning the process months ago at a home football game. East’s football team placed yellow stickers on their helmets, coaches and cheerleaders wore yellow ribbons, and students, teachers, staff, community members, and even the opposing team and coaches supported the initiative by signing the yellow strips of paper that are now a part of the Chain of Life. Over the next two months, suicide awareness and prevention information was shared with students in various capacities. Students received yellow ribbon cards, which described what to do when they or a friend need help, and where to go to get help. Members of the SADD Club also provided information to students via the school’s television station. The Chain of Life was officially constructed and displayed in December by members of the SADD Club and their advisor, Jackie Longnecker.

“I am so proud of these students for their time, effort, and energy in stepping up to the plate with this sensitive issue, wanting to let their peers know there is help and support available at East,” said Longnecker. “We coordinated this initiative because we wanted to make sure all students at East know that there are ways they can receive help, and that the faculty and staff are here to support them.”

For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or tdukert@wcasd.net.