The You Should Read This project began with a question:
What supports does our school have for students who need to feel less alone?
This simple question evolved into a student-run pilot that involved over 300 students, 150 true stories, 7000 connections, and a new place within Jasper Place for discussions about safety, health, leadership, and learning.
With the support of the Global Café, You Should Read This brought student together to discuss ways to promote a culture of empathy within school hallways, to encourage students to think before judging others, and to provide peer support and positive reinforcement to students through anonymous storytelling. These discussions resulted in a story-sharing system that uses Tumblr, SMS cell-phone technology and student artwork to safely and respectfully create a student-focused conversation about empathy in the hallways of the school.
Through class presentations and word-of-mouth, student organizers encouraged their peers to share true experiences from their lives that they felt would be of use to others, or that they felt it was important to share. The rules were simple:
- Make sure it’s honest
- Make sure it’s yours to share
- Make it something that makes our school better.
Over a six-week period, approximately 200 stories were collected, over 7000 text messages were sent to and received from the system, and over 300 individual cellphone users became part of the You Should Read This network within the school.
Using this network, students are building new components into the system, learning from each other, and creating new conversations. With over 10% of Edmonton’s largest high school already involved, we look forward to building on our success in the coming year and creating a supportive school culture for all students through our stories.