French Settlement High School students are tackling mental health in a big way with its campus-wide initiative called the B.L.O.O.M. Room.
The project began as a community service project for the Sr. Beta Club and the group decided to take on mental health.
"We actually didn't know that we wanted to start out with mental health, but Mrs. Vulgamore helped us and guided us into the conclusion that our campus needed something better," FSHS junior Jolie Auzenne said. "So we decided on B.L.O.O.M. -- which stands for "By Loving Ourselves and Others More."
The idea has sprung from an idea to an entire movement on campus. The B.L.O.O.M. group has flooded the campus with positive affirmations for students and faculty, led B.L.O.O.M. days where students can decompress during stressful times of the semester and organized the construction of the B.L.O.O.M. Room.
The room is a covered outdoor space with comfortable chairs, pillows and décor that is meant to help students unwind.
"The kids ask if they can go to the B.L.O.O.M. Room if they're feeling overwhelmed and they're using it for what it's sole purpose is for," Mrs. Jennifer Vulgamore, the Sr. Beta sponsor, said. "A lot of our students are struggling with not connecting, so they need a positive outlet and the B.L.O.O.M. Room is that."
The project quickly went beyond a Beta competition. Soon, other students were involved in the project. The FSHS carpentry students led the construction of the room and built benches, tables and flower containers, and local businesses helped financially with building materials.
"It's pretty amazing what the kids have put into it," Keith Johnston with K&L Environmental Solutions said. "The dedication and seeing it from the start to finish -- It's a great feeling."
For Auzenne and the B.L.O.O.M. Team, the room has transformed into a lasting impact for the entire campus.
"Mental health is rarely talked about," she said. "If somebody has anxiety or depression, they think, 'Oh, they just need to get over it. It's in their head.' When in reality, it's not. It's just the life that somebody is going through, and they don't know how to cope with it.
"But, when you have the right people around you and the right motivation, like the B.L.O.O.M. Room, it helps you and it creates a better spot for your mental health."
The FSHS Sr. Beta Club would like to thank the following sponsors of the B.L.O.O.M. Room:
Brooke Side Realty
Metal Mart #49
K&L Environmental Solutions
Amira Makke Attorney