Falcon Middle School ambassadors welcomed fellow classmates to school March 14 with kindness and a lesson in inclusion. Instead of a walkout, on a day when students across the nation were protesting against school violence, Firebird Nation student leaders orchestrated a “walk up.”
The ambassadors, led by teacher Kathy Hancock, came up with the idea and followed suggestions from the movement they found on social media. #WalkUpNotOut is an initiative that encourages students to walk up to at least 17 people and share words of kindness on the one-month anniversary of the school tragedy in Parkland, Fla. The number 17 matches the number of lives lost in Parkland.
“It’s about getting kids to feel okay about themselves and to connect with each other,” stated Hancock. Ambassadors were waiting outside the school’s entrance to greet students as they arrived with a handout about #WalkUpNotOut and a “You are Loved” pin to wear.
To send a message that the community is in this together, deputies from the El Paso County Sherriff’s Office were onsite to support students.
“It was cold outside, but the happier you were, the warmer you became,” shared Tiffany Backeberg, 14, eighth-grader.
“People often have cliques, but I want students to know you can be inviting to others and have even more friends,” said Asher Johnson, 13, eighth-grader.
While the walk up was on a single day, Hancock was quick to share, “This is an everyday thing. Our goal for today and every day is to keep doing things like this.”