In Lauren’s words:
Peyton Heart Project Ambassador Essay: By Lauren Blevins
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to learn the appreciation of honest critics and ensure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” Emerson’s adaptation of poet, Bessie Stanley’s words written in 1905 are even more relevant today. I have always enjoyed this poem and its message that success may have many different meanings however can simply be achieved by spreading positivity and love to others. I have always felt connected to people and found personal joy in seeing the happiness of others. Since I was young I wanted to find a way to help people and feel that I was making a difference in my community and in the lives of others. I chose a career in health care which allows me the opportunity to connect with others while promoting all dimensions of wellness. I am a Nurse Practitioner board certified in Family Medicine. I am currently the provider at a College University Health Center where we care for the physical and mental needs of our campus community. I met an advocate from the Suicide Prevention Hotline at a College Health Conference I attended this year. She had a few beautiful crochet hearts laying on the table. I picked one up and read the tag attached, “You make the world a beautiful place.” She provided a brief explanation of the program and I asked if could take one back to the university where I work to share with my colleagues. This was my first introduction to the #PeytonHeartProject.
Behavioral health concerns are on the rise and the statistics are daunting. Suicide is the number two leading cause of death among those ages 15-34. Approximately 1,100 undergraduate students will die by suicide each year. The American College Health Association gathers national data regarding student’s behaviors, habits, and perceptions. Statistics show that in the past 12 months; 52% reported feeling helpless, 63% felt lonely, 8% executed some form of self- mutilation, and 12% seriously considered suicide. I often hear stories from my patients that deeply affect me. I can see the beauty in them and it can be challenging at times to encourage them to see the same. I have heard patients talk about impactful moments in their lives. They speak about times when they are in their “darkest day” and the smile, warmth, or compassion of sometimes a complete stranger provided just enough distraction from their ruminations to feel a sense of hope. We often do not appreciate how impactful something so small can be. This is where I feel the message provided by the #PeytonHeartProject can make such a difference. Each heart is unique. They are different colors, shapes, and textures. Each heart with its own individuality and characteristics which transcend from the different individuals making them with such positive intent. The texture provides a sensory competent which can also be calming. The messages printed on the attached cards are inspirational and uplifting. If even one life can be impacted because of this program then I consider it a huge success. I look forward to becoming an ambassador for the #PeytonHeartProject to spread the word across the campus and surrounding community that each individual makes the world a better place and that you are valued, you are beautiful, and you are loved.