Last November was the first time I ever heard one of my teens talk about politics. Everyone was edgy–even teens who really didn’t have an opinion one way or another picked up on vibes from adults. I had to do something–but something inclusive. I didn’t want to be partisan, I just wanted to be positive. And with a drawer full of leftover Post-Its from summer reading, I had a passive program ready to go.
Because alliteration is fabulous, I made a sign in Canva that just said “Positivity Post-Its: Write a short, positive message on a Post-It. Spread kindness and positivity. Make someone’s day!” Then all I did was set out Post-Its and colored pencils. Seriously, that’s it. Well, I also added the first few Post-Its to get them going.
When I left that position in February of this year, the positivity had spread from my original three Post-It squares to half the wall of the teen space. I only remember having to remove a few inappropriate notes, and they were more of the “U Suck” variety, although there was a memorably misspelled profanity, which I found hilarious. Teens sketched pictures and wrote down favorite quotes. There was a lot of encouragement to not self-harm. Sometimes, I would come in early in the morning, look at the notes left overnight, and cry.
We don’t need fancy materials to make a great program. We don’t need $600 plastic stools to make our teens spaces awesome and welcoming. We just need words. We need to give our teens agency, ownership of the space, and the safety to speak their minds. We need to try to spread positivity even in our darkest moments. So just try this. See what they come up with. Spread the love.