‘Penguin Positivity’ boards spread messages of hope and encouragement to YSU students

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The idea is to help students realize there's always a way to make it through any hard times

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State University has a new mental health support initiative, where one area of focus is encouraging students to seek help when they need it.

The message center is called Penguin Positivity and is located inside the Kilcawley building. Positive messages are written on wooden tiles placed on 5-foot boards.

“The idea is to take one and leave one,” said YSU student Ashley Amendol.

There are blank tiles so you can leave words of encouragement.

YSU President Jim Tressel wrote a Voltaire quote, “Paradise is where I am.”

Amendol wrote, “When it’s raining, look for a rainbow. When it’s dark, look for the stars.”

The idea is to help students realize there’s always a way to make it through any hard times.

Amendol and Hannah Haynie brought the idea to YSU while studying at the University of Michigan, as a way to help students with mental health needs.

Haynie says research shows two-thirds of the population have had one incidence of childhood trauma.

“Knowing that and the negative health outcomes, I thought that everywhere there is a need and that a great place to start would be at YSU,” Haynie said.

The positive messages also provide hope. On the back of the cards are ways for students to get help if they need it.

“Positivity is what life is all about, in my mind, and having services available for people in times of need,” Tressel said.

Penguin Positivity stretches from the students who pitched the idea to the administration that approved it to the university carpenter who helped with the cards.

It’s hard to walk by one of the boards and not smile.

“Whether or not someone needs it right then, hopefully some people see it and take it because it means something to them, and when they do need it, they have it,” Haynie said.

Four Penguin Positivity boards will be set up on campus. The other three will be on the bridge to Meshel Hall, in the dining hall and in the YSU Veterans Affairs building.

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