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12/30/2013 10:46:00 AM
To counter bullying, 'Speak life'
O'Hara School students join up to suggest 'truth.'
O'Hara School students join up to suggest 'truth.'

EUGENE — Sticky notes can make the world better.

Seventh graders from O'Hara School here, led by religion coordinator and seventh grade religion teacher, Leslie Jones, have started a campaign called "Speak Life." The idea was sparked from a YouTube video that accompanies a Christian song, "Speak Life" by Toby Mac. In the video, youngsters write words of support and encouragement on sticky notes and post them in random places. It's all meant as an antidote to bullying and cyber-bullying.

O'Hara seventh graders started the campaign by placing notes with positive messages around the school one afternoon — on lockers, doors, teachers' computers, car windows. They then announced the idea at an all-school assembly. Next, they started to form a large cross of notes in a hallway; other students have filled it in with loving messages and reminders of "speaking life" to one another.

This idea fits the school's scripture theme for the year, 1 John 4:19 — "We love because He first loved us."

"In the news, we hear a lot about bullying and cyber-bullying," says Tammy Conway, O'Hara principal. "Our kids wanted to take the opposite approach, showing kindness and love and compassion." Conway helped get the project going.  

"Our mission is to speak life and to spread kindness and compassion," says O'Hara seventh grader Daphne West. West hopes the idea jumps beyond O'Hara, even goes viral.  

Annie Hall, another seventh grader, likes to write messages like "You Are Loved," and "God Loves You."

"It can lift up people's spirits," she says, predicting the effort will continue at O'Hara for years to come. She says bullying happens in Eugene, like it does anywhere.  

The idea has parallels elsewhere. At Valley Catholic School, the student council officers hung a poster showing social media symbols with the questions: T — Is it true? H — Is it honorable? I — Is it inspiring? N — Is it necessary? K — Is it kind? It was an effort to get their peers to be more responsible for what they say to others.

YouTube video set to Toby Mac's "Speak Life": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O13FIcPan8o

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