ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Several organizations in Roanoke are making efforts to show students they matter, after they say a large number of area high school and middle school students report they don’t feel like they belong. That’s according to a youth risk behavior survey done in 2021 by Blue Ridge Behavioral Health.

On Wednesday, Oct. 26 Roanoke City Public schools partnered with Blue Ridge Behavioral Health’s Roanoke Prevention Alliance to announce a campaign and share a project they hope will get their message across–that every student feels important.

Throughout the month, students at the Roanoke Academy for Math & Science have been working on an art project, showing their ‘Shining Stars’, people they feel they can talk to about anything.

(Photo: Amanda Lee/WFXR News)

School Counselor, Shonda Gunn says it can be tough to talk to young students difficult times. She said, “Its a great opportunity for us to teach them about resiliency and let them know there is at least one person in their lives that can support them through difficult times.” Gunn added, “There’s things going on at home with families struggling so of course it makes the kids maybe feel bad when they come to school, they may not have what other kids have, some of them may be teased.”

(Photo: Amanda Lee/WFXR News)

She says most students shared that their mom was the person they go to first when going through tough times. She says other students say it was their dad, grandmother, cousin or friend.

Ambassadors with the Roanoke Prevention Alliance say they’re working on promoting creative ways to show students in Roanoke that they matter through an Equity and Resiliency campaign called ‘I Matter.’

Director of the Roanoke Prevention Alliance, Christine Gist said, “We would like children to know how much their community cares about them and how much they matter to the community members.”

(Photo: Amanda Lee/WFXR News)

The campaign project is expected to reach about 3,500 students in Roanoke City and it funded by a nearly $18,000 dollar grant from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health.

They plan to use multiple platforms to promote support for students like social media, billboards and artwork. The grant also allowed the alliance to provide crayons, markers and stress relief gadgets for students in Roanoke City Schools.

Gist says she plans to continue working with the school district and other organizations to spread the word to hopefully make students feel valued.