SHPS BOE First in State to Take the Be Nice Pledge

SHPS BOE First in State to Take the Be Nice Pledge
SHPS BOE First in State to Take the Be Nice Pledge

The South Haven Public Schools district has embraced the Be Nice program on every level with all teachers and a majority of students having taken the Be Nice pledge. At yesterday’s Regular Board of Education meeting, the South Haven Board of Education also took the pledge, making them the first school board in the state of Michigan to have done so.

 The mission of the Be Nice program is to “create communities that have good mental health by inspiring people to recognize, understand, accept, and take action.” To encourage action, the Be Nice team advocates an action plan which involves: 1) noticing changes in behavior and signs of depression in others, 2) inviting yourself to start a conversation with someone showing signs of depression, 3) challenging the stigma surrounding mental health, and 4) empowering yourself and taking action.

 During the 2017-18 school year, the mental health awareness/suicide prevention program was first introduced to South Haven High School and Baseline Middle School. Buying into the message, students in each building formed a committee whose main objective was to share the positive Be Nice principles with their peers. Since its implementation, secondary students have continued to demonstrate their commitment to Be Nice by wearing their Be Nice shirts on a predetermined day each week, hosting Be Nice weeks with activities such the “7 Smiles in 7 Hours” day where students are encouraged to say seven positive things to seven different people within the 7 hours, and by organizing powerful assemblies where familiar staff members’ experiences with overcoming bullying and mental health issues are expressed to the student body.

 Throughout the 2018-19 school year, the program spread to Lincoln, Maple Grove, and North Shore Elementary. Students were exposed to weekly Be Nice lessons where they learned age-appropriate information about what is considered the “stop, drop, and roll,” of mental health and how an individual’s actions directly impact how others think, act, and feel.

 “It’s very important to us that the students of our district know that their board of education sees and is proud of the work they are doing and supports their commitment to this important cause,” said Board President, Laura Bos regarding taking the pledge. “It was our honor to formally endorse a program that has meant so much to our kids.”