A banner was created by South Ridge School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) with the support of Fond du Lac Reservation (FDL), South Ridge Art Dept., Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) and Clear Way of MN.
South Ridge GSA works together to educate youth by raising awareness – learning how to be personally healthy, promoting healthy attitudes and choices in life. We support a safe and supportive community for all – whether a person is straight or gay, bi-sexual or transgender, queer or intersex – however students define themselves is supported. Students are encouraged to be who they are – embrace love – not hate, embrace diversity and inclusiveness.
Students participate is a number of activities throughout the school year to share with their community what they are learning in GSA. We often focus on life choices. Studies show that queer and American Indian kids choose to smoke because of the added stresses these kids live with each day. They are more susceptible to substance abuse. To preempt this South Ridge GSA and Fond du Lac’s SHIP joined together providing an opportunity to promote healthy lifestyle choice – to live smoke free.
Using a technique taught by Duluth artist Kirsten Aune, students cut words out of freezer paper creating stencils. Additional patterns and designs were again cut out of the letters and the stencils were ironed down on to a large sheet of muslin. Textile inks were then painted on top of the fabric. Areas where the original fabric remained were protected by the stencils.
Students worked for about a month to complete the banner which was unveiled Feb 28th when SHIP representatives visited school. They brought healthy snacks and shared simple breathing and stretching exercises (Yoga) students could do to relieve stress.
The stress of living in a society that is hostile to the people of color and LGBTQAI communities creates social stress that makes many of these young people at greater risk for substance use. Teaching students to be aware of this in their own life choices will better prepare them for a healthy future.