My name is Valerianne Hinkley, I am 19 years old and a student at the University of Maine at Farmington. In response to being bullied I flipped the switch and created my platform in 2017 for raising awareness. However, my compassion and selfless acts started before then.
In January 2015, a peer of mine took her own life after a long battle with depression and peer bullying. Soon after her death, several classmates started to express suicidal thoughts and plans with some turning to me. I comforted and encouraged peers to get help including saying I would go with them if they needed me there. With difficult situations, knowing I may lose friendships, I had to report, for safety reasons, peers to the school and a couple to police. Because of me, friends were admitted into the hospital for help.
Then my freshmen year of high school, I became the target of bullying from friends. From glares, cyber messages and posts, to snickers and side comments, I struggled with what to do. Seen running down the hallways crying to calling my mother to come get me and my high honor grades slipping it was clear this was not who I was.
After taking time away from everything and missing school here and there, I decided that this was not who I was and I was not going to let others define me. I knew if I was feeling like this, there had to be others too.
I went back to school and started the Positive Post-It Note Project. Day one was positive messages on posters all around the high school, including in bathrooms, and day two was over 800 Post-It notes on all lockers at the school with messages like "You are worth it", "You are loved", "You are awesome", etc.
In the United Sates one out of every five students ages 12-18 report being bullied during the school year. Approximately 160,000 teens have skipped school because of bullying. I was one of those students, I was one of those teens.
Through my projects I have let other students know that they are not alone. I am empowering students of every age and giving them a message of hope and appreciation.
Learn more about my story and how I started by clicking here.