July 2019: Sena Uctuk is a 16 year old 11th grader from Fort Collins, CO. This will be her fourth year as an ambassador for The Peyton Heart Project. She will be The Peyton Heart Project Ambassador until July 17, 2020.
This year I participated in the Rainbow Heart Event for the World Pride March by making 500 hearts. My mother helped me with this project and I always enjoy making hearts for this event because I love the color of the yarn. My mother helped me with this project as well as using donations from two lovely people, Margaret and Adriane. In total, the project received over 23,700 hearts! I had a fun time making these hearts.
I also did a bit of school work this year. I made hearts and put them in the mailboxes of my fellow Student Council Members this year, and did a quick speech about the project. I did this earlier in the year, and I saw that some of them had them hanging on their backpacks during school. In choir, I put hearts inside of all of the members’ “Notes of Love” boxes. We have these boxes so that the members can write notes to eachother containing words of encouragement and positivity, and the hearts went perfectly with the boxes! I also did two presentations this year for my school’s Teen Choices class. I taught both how to make wrap around hearts and I also used a Prezi that I have used for all my presentations during this event. I had a lot of fun getting to teach the classes because it is always fun getting to know the students as well as teaching them how to spread kindness around their community, and teaching them how they can help others in need.
For another year, I ran my public kindness Instagram account, @blooming_kindness, where I post pictures of hearts that I have made as well as inspirational quotes. I plan to post more consistently and I think it would be beneficial to post other ambassadors’ heart pictures as well as information for different events they might be doing so that people can lookout for more of The Peyton Heart Project!
I participated in Be Kind FOCO, which is an event I participated in last year (and had a lot of fun doing it). I had a booth there for people to come and take supplies to make wrap around hearts. I talked to a lot of people about the project, and we made lots of hearts! I also participated as the Kid Philanthropists captain and was able to meet kids in my community who have strived to make an impact in their community. I made a lot of new friendships and I learned a lot about other people and how they work their programs.
I learned a lot from all the experiences I participated in this year. If I am to share the hearts with my classes again this year, it will be helpful to have hearts on hand, so that I can pass them out as soon as I can. For heart events, like the rainbow hearts, I am going to create a spreadsheet so that I can monitor my progress and set weekly goals to track whether I completed them. This I believe, will be helpful to manage my time, because it was very busy during this school year. I am hoping this will help me manage my workload. For my presentations, I believe that I need to update my facts because most of them are statistics from 2015. And since it is 2019, there are a lot of new statistics that I can use in my Prezi.
The project has always had an impact on people, whether it has been great or small. In my community, it has always been positive, and I can see this through the hearts that I can see hanging on people’s backpacks, as well as all the smiles that I see from people whenever they find a heart that I have made. I feel I have also inspired a few to help out with the project. A few people have come to me asking for the heart pattern that I use so that they can make their own! It is always exciting to share this information with people because it is easy and fun to make the hearts, and it is a good way to positively affect your community.
I want to be an ambassador again this year because I enjoy being an ambassador. I get to meet all different people from all walks of life, and I get to hear their stories and experiences. I also get to see how I positively impact the community through the smiles on people’s faces when they see the hearts. Crocheting is one of my hobbies, and it is nice to put my hobby to good use. It is a positive outlet for me to share my experiences and thoughts, through presenting to classes and discussing the topic with other people. Participating in the project has led me to be a part of a more positive and kind community and I appreciate being able to help others as to how others have helped me.
I have been humbled by the project because it has connected me to so many different people, who all have a different story. This is very important to me because I understand that I needed to have a more broad perspective to achieve what needed to be done. I have gathered so many good experiences and memories. My life goal is to change the world, and it is quite possible that I changed someone else’s world for the better. It has changed me into a more conscious and kind person, and I am grateful for this.
My plan this year is to work on making more hearts so that I can give them to my classes like I did this year. And I am hoping that I can get more opportunities to share the project by presenting to classes. I will be contacting some of my teachers to see if they would be interested. I am very excited about this upcoming year because I will be participating in my school’s Peers Counselors group. I will be helping other students this year by giving presentations to the Teen Choices classes about different topics that are becoming more prominent in our society. This will give me social skills to hopefully help me when I talk to people about the project. I will also be counseling student this year so I will be receiving training on how to help, given different situations, this will probably include helping people who are being bullied, or who need more support if they are struggling with their mental health. The Peers group is a perfect way to share the project because I will be talking to a lot of staff and students in the building, and I intend on giving hearts to all of the counselors in Peers as well as other people I meet. I am hoping that if I have enough time this year, I will be able to make enough hearts to send to New Jersey, periodically, so that there are extra hearts that Jill and Sue can distribute to those who need them.
I have, once again, had an amazing time being an ambassador for the project and I appreciate you all for giving me the chance to be an ambassador for another year!
Essay to reapply
In her own words:
My name is Sena Uctuk, I am currently 15 and this coming year I will be a sophomore in high school. I would like to be considered to be an ambassador for Fort Collins, Colorado another year.
This year I have been doing more on spreading hearts as well as working with my good friend and fellow ambassador Grace, to spread The Peyton Heart Project’s message to those in our community.
To start the school year, I decided to create a club for The Peyton Heart Project so others could join and learn how to make hearts to spread around town. Our main focus was to learn to make felt hearts, as well as getting a chance to talk to others and getting to know people. It was an amazing opportunity and a learning experience. I learned that if you are to have an “ongoing event” it is better to have different things to do than just talk and make felt hearts. Instead, I could spend one day teaching them how to become ambassadors, one day talking about the impacts of bullying on teens today, and one day learning about mechanisms to cope with stress.
Wellness, as defined by Google is, “The state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” This is a big contributor to helping me in my work as an ambassador for the project. During the school year, I joined my school’s Wellness Team. Throughout the year, we would do different events and activities to help strengthen our trust and teamwork skills. We started by going on a small field trip up to one of the natural areas here in Colorado and learned and applied different skills to help cope with anxiety and stress. It was raining the whole time we were up there so afterward we went to a diner called Vern’s and each of the members got a hot chocolate and we shared cinnamon rolls. I had a lot of fun and learned good techniques that I intend to pass [on] to those around me.
We also hosted our school’s annual Wellness Day! This was a super fun day where students could walk around during lunch and earn tickets at different booths by doing wellness inducing activities, such as participating in a Zumba dance-off. These tickets could go towards different prizes donated by our local stores. I got the chance to walk around and learn about different organizations and their purposes, and learn how they encouraged wellness.
Throughout the year, our school’s Wellness Room hosted different sessions for students to come and learn how to make different items, such as stress balls, herbal eye pillows, glitter jars, and healthy oat balls that are easy to make and delicious!! I was able to participate in almost all of these and learned good techniques to help cope with stress.
I had an amazing opportunity to meet Jill and Sue [the founders of The Peyton Heart Project] while they were traveling across the country when they stopped by Fort Collins, CO. We were able to talk and learn more about each other, as well as share ideas and opinions about how things were going with the project. We were able to swap hearts, Jill and Sue gave me a bag of their wrapped hearts, which we were able to spread all around town, and I gave them a bag of our felt heart-making kit and supplies!
This year I was honored with the Ambassador of the Year Award, along with Mikayla!
I also participated in the Lennon Baldwin heart event, and I was able to send hearts to Jill and Sue for this event. I learned that it is probably a good idea to have the list of events printed out so that I can start making hearts sooner when I have the time and not rush.
I was lucky enough to find out that my district’s Wellness Advisory Council was accepting applications for representatives, for the new term, from students. They were going to accept two students to be the high school representatives on their council. I applied and within a month a received an email saying that my application had been reviewed and they said that they would like for me to join the committee! It is a two-year term, and I will be helping to determine new policies, and vote on different things, such as different projects or events that the schools may be hosting that relates to wellness, for the whole of my district! This will be a good opportunity to spread The Peyton Heart Project throughout the district, as well as having the resources to be able to do more around my community in the two coming years.
On April 29th, Grace and I had a booth at our town’s kindness fair: Be Kind FOCO: A Kindness Expo. At our booth, we had material for people to make the wrap around hearts. We also had the project’s pamphlets and extra hearts so that people could take some and spread them around town. This was a fun event and I was able to spend the day with Grace and also learn more about the other booths at the event. I learned that it might be better to have paper instructions as well [with] us to help guide them so that they might grasp the concept better. I also learned that crochet hearts require less yarn than the wrap around hearts, making it more cost friendly. But wrap around hearts are easier for people who can’t crochet.
I feel that the impact on my community has been a positive one. I feel that Fort Collins is a kind place in general, but we all have our moments and The Peyton Heart Project is one way that can help during these days. But even if someone isn’t having a bad day, it encourages them to do something for others, like making the hearts. But not only does it have an impact on others, it has had a major impact on myself. It has connected me to so many people, and I have made a lot of friends who are interested in what I do as an ambassador. It has also given me “people skills” because I talk to people a lot about The Peyton Heart Project, which I believe is a necessary skill for all people to have. I feel more comfortable doing presentations, whether it is about the project, or school presentations. I would like to be an ambassador for another year to continue to improve these skills, and also to be able to feel the feeling whenever you do something kind.
In the coming year, I am hoping to do more events like Be Kind FOCO, as well as hoping to participate in more heart events. I also plan to work with Colorado State University putting baskets of hearts in the Kindness Lounge in the Lory Student Center. I would like to also coordinate with the Gardens at Spring Creek to yarn bomb a tree and hang hearts from it for people to take as they tour the gardens. I will also be participating in my school’s Wellness Team. I am also hoping to have a chance to share about The Peyton Heart Project with the Wellness Advisory Council for the Poudre School District.
In Sena’s own words:
Renewal Essay: My name is Sena and I have been one of the ambassadors for Fort Collins, Colorado. I would like to be considered to be an ambassador for another year. This year, I have participated in a bunch of events and a personal project for the project. The events I contributed in were, the Orange Hearts for October, when I spread the hearts around downtown with my family, and the Yellow Hearts event, when we sent about one-hundred or so hearts to Jill, plus the Rainbow Hearts, which we also sent about one-hundred or so to Jill for the LGBT parade in New York.
The projects I did this year started with talking to one of the school’s administration in the district about having hearts in the school this year. Even though they said they couldn’t have the hearts, because they already had a lot going on, I learned different ways to improve on when I present to adults. Also, I did a radio interview with Sean and the Teens of America Radio Network. Before the holidays, I made a Kindness Tree, which was a tree we decorated in the cafeteria of my school, with hearts, yarn, and little signs with quotes.
In February, I went to my old elementary school, Rivendell, and gave a presentation about kindness and how to prevent bullying. All the students had made hearts for the project’s use and each was absolutely beautiful. In March, we received a new ambassador, also from Fort Collins, who has been a wonderful friend of mine since we were little, Grace. And also in March, I did a presentation to some students at a school in my district, Wellington Middle School. I taught them about the project and taught them how to make felt hearts. After, the project sent enough hearts to add onto the hearts that the students made, giving enough for all the students in the school. Later on, I taught Grace how to make the style of heart I like to make, and we have been working together.
Throughout the year, I have been making packages, so others can make felt hearts. The package included all the necessary materials for the person who wanted the package, to use. And step-by-step instructions that my sister, Asiye created. This has been a good way to reach out to friends and help the people in my community to contribute. I would like to produce and give out more of these packages.
I am currently the host of an account that is based off of the project and I have been using it throughout the year to post about different things that I was doing with encouraging quotes for people. The account is @blooming_kindness on Instagram.
For the upcoming year, I plan to focus on making hearts and spreading them all over the city and places I go. And try to contribute more to the different events. I will try to accomplish this by making a weekly amount of hearts, such as twenty-five, to keep up and have hearts in case I need to ship them or use them for spreading here. This will keep me in a good place for the year. I want to do something at my new school, such as a sudden burst of hearts all over the school, to surprise students and be a major notice to the students. I did something like this in the past, where I yarn bombed the trees in the front of the school and covered them in hearts.
For something new, I would like to start planning a way to get to the college here in Fort Collins, Colorado State University. Depending on how busy I am this year, this might be a two year process to get a big enough impact on the students at CSU. I would like to place baskets of hearts all over the campus, and the campus is HUGE. Over 33,000 students are currently at CSU, and I want to get hearts out to as many as possible or all if I can. Again, this might take some time and planning, but I want to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming challenges while planning.I want to continue with my current Kindness account on Instagram, and possible branch into other Social Medias, such as Facebook, or Twitter, and possibly YouTube. I know for a fact that a lot of mean stuff can appear on social media, and so I can try to get a good amount of the Social Medias, so by branching out, I am reaching out to others besides those on Instagram. I will also try to go to different events in my town and distribute hearts throughout. Hopefully, the first will be New West Fest in my city’s downtown. Also, I will be working with Grace throughout the year to spread the message around town and the places she goes to perform. I don’t want to put pressure on myself, but I will do my best to spread the project’s message this year and do my best to help everyone in my community and try to help everyone out of my community too.
Original Essay: 2016-17 term
“My name is Sena Uctuk. I am 13. I am going to be in 8th grade this upcoming school year. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado, in the United States of America and I would like to be considered for the Ambassador of Fort Collins, CO for the Peyton Heart Project because of three reasons. I want to spread awareness for bullying, spread awareness for suicide prevention, and teach students that there is always someone to go to if you have troubles.
I have done my best to try and prevent bullying after I heard about the Peyton Heart Project from my mother who found out about it on Facebook. This last school year I created a project for my school that would inform people about the Peyton Heart Project. Yarn bombing is when a person or multiple people create yarn objects that would then be wrapped around an object such as a statue or a bicycle, or in my case, trees. In September of 2015 I began planning and creating my project. I decided to yarn bomb all the trees in the front of my school and hang hearts from them. For 6 months my mom and I made hearts for the trees and created the yarn bombs for each of the trees. Once I got permission from the administration of my school I presented my project to the school board and got positive feedback. I created an announcement that would go on the intercom for the mornings I had the yarn bombs up to explain the reasons behind the project. Also, with the help of the Art ELO (Extended Learning Opportunity), we created signs that also explained the project and provided different contacts to reach if they had bullying problems and needed help. I got help making more hearts from another student who knew how to crochet. We put up the project on Sunday, April 24th, 2016 and took down the project the following Sunday. That Monday after the setup, my family and I went to see how it was going as they dropped me off for school. There were students looking at the trees and taking the hearts that we had made. The hearts that I put up were gone by the time school started so we made and placed a few more hearts on the trees on Wednesday. Those ended up being taken as well in a matter of minutes. We ended up making even more hearts for the project on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon. This way we could place even more hearts up on Friday. In total, we ended up making approximately 400 hearts for the display plus sixteen yarn bombs.
As I have gone through middle school, I have realized how bad bullying can impact a person’s life. This last school year two kids in my district took their lives because of bullying. That made me realize how much more important this project is. I put all my effort into this project. Bringing awareness to the kids in my school and providing solutions to these problems. If I become the Ambassador for the Peyton Heart Project, for Fort Collins, I could spread this message to other schools by contacting friends and developing a committee of people, sending them hearts for them to place around their schools for other students to find. If possible, maybe going to their schools and doing a school presentation or giving my friends the material to teach the students at their schools about the Peyton Heart Project. Hopefully impacting other student’s lives with this awareness so they can use the lessons they learn to help save other people’s lives.
Another reason I wanted to do this project was because I have been bullied before. The first time I was bullied I was in kindergarten and walking on the playground with my two friends. While we were walking, a boy in my same grade stared at us looking angry. He punched me and hit me. I tried to defend myself but I still got hurt. My two friends brought me to the nearest teacher and the boy was sent to the principal’s office. That day I learned that having friends is very important in situations like this. Bullying isn’t just physical, but it can also be verbal, emotional, and mental. All of these are not good and can lead to different consequences.
These are the reasons why I would like to become the Ambassador for Fort Collins, CO for the Peyton Heart Project.”