In Felicia’s own words:
Peyton Heart Project Ambassador Essay: By Felicia Cochran
My name is Felicia Cochran and I am a sophomore at Bloomfield High School in Bloomfield, New Jersey. I am a varsity cheerleader for my school, which takes up much of my time. However, in my spare time I enjoy spending time with friends and family and hanging out with/helping my church’s youth group. I love to make the people around me smile and hope to be able to do that for more people through this project.
Although I have never been bullied, I witnessed bullying as a young kid in elementary school. I remember being in fourth grade and seeing a girl in my grade being forced to sit alone at lunch because some of the other girls would not sit with her. I automatically felt compelled to sit with her, since nobody should have to sit alone. I sat with her every day and we eventually became very good friends and still are to this day. Knowing that I could be there for her when she was upset was a great feeling.
Self-harm has affected me in more instances than one. In seventh grade, I found out one of my friends had been cutting and I was immediately concerned. It was really upsetting and I did not want to lose a friend, so I checked on her all the time. Her other friends who knew and I tried our best to help her out and eventually she stopped. In eighth grade, I spotted one of my best friends’ wrists and texted her about it since I knew she had been going through a tough time. She poured out all her emotions to me and said she already felt better knowing she had someone to talk to. She too eventually stopped. Nobody deserves to feel bad enough that they feel the need to hurt themselves.
Last winter, I was given an entirely new perspective on suicide. One of my friends that I had met in gym class at the beginning of last year’s school year, died by suicide. Before this, nobody that I had known personally had ever passed away. This hit me hard, especially after seeing how it affected her parents and best friends. This made me realize how much it really can affect the people left behind and how devastating it is. I didn’t even know that she was feeling this bad, and I wish I could have done something to help her before it was too late.
I personally, as well as one of my close friends, have been affected by mental health issues. Last March, my uncle passed away and I became very depressed. It was extremely difficult for me to deal with his death for a long time. Up until this past December, when I went on my first youth group retreat, I had not been able to stop grieving because I had never truly opened up. Being able to talk to my peers and have them support me has truly helped me get through this and I am in a much better place now. One of my close friends, who I happened to meet at youth group, is currently dealing with a much more extreme version of depression. He has been hospitalized several times and from him opening up to me I know that the best thing someone can do is be there for him. I want to be there for others going through hard times because I know how much it can help them.
I heard about The Peyton Heart Project by finding a heart on a bench at an outlet mall while I was on vacation in South Carolina. I went onto the website to read more about the project and wanted to be a part of it. To me, The Peyton Heart Project is a great way to spread awareness for things like bullying, and inform people on how bullying can affect others. It is important that everyone knows how their actions can impact others as well as know that they are beautiful and loved. I want to be an ambassador so that I can spread kindness and awareness and help people that have been in my situation or my friends’ situations. I think The Peyton Heart Project is a great thing to be a part of. It is good to know that it makes people stop and think for a while. I want to bring The Peyton Heart Project to my youth group because this will spread the word in my community. I hope to get as many of my peers involved as possible so that the message of the project is spread throughout my community and farther. The Peyton Heart Project is very important to me and I would absolutely love to be a part of it.