GRAFTON — Pizza crusts and candy wrappers covered the tables in the library at Midview Middle School where some of the school’s less-social students were making new friends.
The event is part of the No One Eats Alone campaign, which Midview executed with a grant from the Lorain County Board of Mental Health.
For several weeks, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in a group called Students for Change went around the school writing notes of encouragement on the lockers of their peers and offering candy to anyone who went to the guidance office to talk.
Meghan Ables, 14, leads the group through a game at Midview Middle School. Behind her are from left, Tori Dylan, 14 and Chelsea Miller, 14. The girls are members of the Students for Change group and they are part of the Lunchtime Circles program at the school.
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Then, on Wednesday, the kids in Students for Change invited those that they usually see sitting alone at lunch to Lunchtime Circles where the group had lunch and played games with the other students.
Midview Middle School counselor Lisa Simpson said students led every detail of the project, including choosing her to be the staff member in charge.
The students picked the events and decided what games to play with their peers. The students also identified which of their peers they thought could benefit from more social interaction.
Simpson watched as she saw students who don’t normally smile or talk to others light up during the Lunchtime Circles.
Meghan Ables, 14, an eighth-grader in Students for Change, said she’s gotten to see a different side of her classmates through the project.
“The main purpose is to make sure everyone is involved,” Meghan said. “It’s helping me get closer to students. I will make sure the connection goes beyond lunch.”
No One Eats Alone was started by a group of students in California to inspire youth to end social isolation. This is the first year Midview Middle School has held the Lunchtime Circles.
“If a student can feel belonging, they’re much less likely to hurt themselves,” Simpson said.
She said the suicide rate among teens in Lorain County is something every school should be addressing.
The Lorain County Board of Mental Health has a 24-hour crisis hotline at (800) 888-6161.
Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.