When Rachel’s Challenge was visiting a high school in New York, the Friends of Rachel Club Advisor and Social Worker, Christopher Babb, shared an easy yet effective project their club has been doing for the last 7-8 years. As he described it, we thought it was an easy project to document and share with other FOR Clubs. Watch the video below and learn how one student, Jessica, describes how this simple project has made a difference in her school.
Rachel’s Challenge: What is Operation Beautiful?
Jessica: Operation Beautiful is an event that we do with the Friends Rachel Club. Throughout the year we write on sticky notes – inspirational quotes and messages. We put them up on lockers, walls, and on bathroom mirrors in the school. I think this is one of my favorite events that we do during the year because it really brings our school together and lifts everyone up. When I was freshman I was walking down the hallway and I was having a really bad day. I saw this one quote on the wall and it just spoke to me. I was like, “Wow, that’s really awesome.” So I took it down and I still have it. It’s actually on my desk at home. A lot of people have that (same) experience. They’ll be down and they’ll just need a little pick me up and they’ll see it. They can even be going through something really bad and it will help them get through the day. I know that we’ve had a lot of people say that to us after the event. They can take them down and put them in their binder or their desk or something like that. It’s just one my favorite things that we do.
Rachel’s Challenge: How do students respond to this event?
Jessica: They might not know that it’s necessarily the Friends of Rachel Club or they might not know exactly why we do it, but for them they might see it and be uplifted by it. It helps other students when they’re having a bad day or when they need just another pick me up. They can see the sticky notes, even if they don’t take them down. They’re just all over the walls. They’re brightly colored. It brightens up our school too. It really helps people get through the day when they might not be feeling so great or happy.
Rachel’s Challenge: How long does it take to get a big pile of sticky notes?
Jessica: During our (Friends of Rachel) meetings, I’ve been trying to add some more time for sticky note writing, because it’s really fun to do them together. We’ll use different markers, different color sticky notes and try to make them really bright and use different quotes. We can look them up (inspirational quotes), share with each other, and come up with new ideas. Also, when I’m sitting down watching TV at home I’ll put a clipboard on my lap, get some sticky notes, grab some markers and just do a whole pack or a few packs. We do them often. We try to get as many done as we can for the event to fill up as much space in our school as possible.
ON A NORMAL DAY YOU MIGHT HAVE UPS AND DOWNS IN THE SCHOOL, BUT ON THIS DAY, EVERYONE IS HAPPY ALL DAY.
Rachel’s Challenge: Does every locker get a sticky note or is it random?
Jessica: We have a lot of lockers in our school. We might not be able to get one on every single locker. It’s something that we are striving towards – to get them on more lockers, so that more kids feel like it’s directly for them. We also put them on the walls because there’s not lockers in every hallway. So you can put them on the walls and the lockers. You can put them in different places or on the mirrors in the bathroom in school.
Rachel’s Challenge: Would you encourage other schools to do this?
Jessica: Yes, definitely. I think other schools should do this. It really is a great event. My school is really big, so smaller schools might be able to have more (sticky notes) saturated on the walls. It creates a sense of community in your school. It spreads the idea of kindness and compassion through sticky notes and the inspirational quotes. It brings everyone together. It lifts them up. On a normal day you might have ups and downs in the school, but on this day, everyone is happy all day. It’s a great day. So I would recommend it to all of the schools.
An interview with Christopher Babb, High School Social Worker and Friends of Rachel Club Advisor.
Rachel’s Challenge: Tell me how Operation Beautiful got started in your school.
Chris: Operation Beautiful is a project that was begun by a young woman named Katie. It was brought to my attention here back in 2010, 2011 by a young lady who was a graduate of 2012. Her name was Sadie Brown. Sadie said.” You know Mr. Babb, I came across this great idea. It’s a different way to spread kindness and compassion. It’s really a chain reaction type of thing. I think we can do it. I’ll take it over. I’ll run with it and I’ll make it happen.” And so for seven, eight years now, we have it on an annual basis at least once, sometimes twice a year, wallpapering the entire school with thousands of Post-it notes that have simple positive messages on them. Those positive messages are just really aimed to not only speak to the inner beauty and the values that we really sometimes lose sight of, but also just little quick pick me ups to remind people that it’s it’s okay, you can have a bad day and hopefully this little message hopefully makes a difference.
REMIND PEOPLE THAT IT’S IT’S OKAY, YOU CAN HAVE A BAD DAY AND HOPEFULLY THIS LITTLE MESSAGE, HOPEFULLY, MAKES A DIFFERENCE.– Chris Babb, High School Social Worker
Rachel’s Challenge: What is the process for handwriting so many notes?
Chris: So the Friends of Rachel club, actually, every week will get together. Some weeks we’re in between projects. This is an ongoing project throughout the year because it takes a lot them, for a school this big. To really have a visible field of Post-it notes we will spend time in club writing notes. They they put artwork on them. They make them unique. Pintrest is an example where they can use it as a resource so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I also have groups of students who will take Post-its, they’ll go to Staples, they’ll go to OfficeMax, they’ll buy Post-its in different colors, and they’ll get friends together on a weekend or Friday night. They’re not going to a party. They’re writing out Post-its. Then they bring them to us and then the officers in the club and I will go over them just make sure they’re okay. Then we collect them. Then we take that designated day or dates and spend a couple hours after school putting them up around the building.