Thursday, 26 October 2023 14:18

Maple Ave Students, Staff Host Schoolwide Unity Walk

Photo provided by Saratoga Springs City School District. Photo provided by Saratoga Springs City School District.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — As part of National Unity Day, students and staff at Maple Avenue Middle School held a school-wide ‘Unity Walk’ on Oct. 18.

Students wrote messages on paper shoes, which were displayed around the school by members of the No Place for Hate Club as the students walked. Students also signed a No Place for Hate pledge. 

National Unity Day is dedicated to promoting acceptance, inclusion, and kindness, said Jen Mead, Maple Ave teacher and advisor of the No Place for Hate Club.

“Leading up to the event, we had our students fill out a paper shoe, with a reference of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes for empathy, where they could jot down anything that was true about their life experience, especially those things we wouldn’t know just by looking at them,” said Mead.

Students walked around the perimeter of the school to view the shoes discussing their classmates’ experiences, and also to view resources and services that can be utilized by students who may be struggling.

Maple Ave offers resources including school counselors, psychologists, and social workers. The school also partners with Behavioral Health Services North to offer in-house therapy and counseling sessions, Mead said. The walk also highlighted services such as the Trevor Project hotline, the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline (988), the Remind app, and the Safe School Helpline.

Following the conclusion of the walk, students signed the No Place for Hate Pledge. Mead added that the Unity Walk was an opportunity not only for students to share their experiences, but also help them realize they are not alone in their struggles.

“So many kids shared similar experiences. Hopefully, the kids who are struggling are able to not only see those services, but know that they’re not in it alone,” Mead said. “The biggest hope is that it helps to create a climate here where kids are inclusive, and kind, and accepting.”

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