Students share their wishes during MI Parent Edge campaign

‘I Wish…’ project is ‘powerful and important,’ Parent Edge member says.

Mercer Island students have displayed their strength — and wishes — in numbers during a MI Parent Edge campaign.

More than 800 students have courageously and candidly stepped forward to anonymously reveal their 1,800 wishes apprising their parents, teachers and peers about what they’re experiencing in their lives through the “I Wish…” project.

“Personally, I was astounded by how honest and vulnerable our students were. The U.S. surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, says, ‘supporting the mental health of children will require a whole-of-society effort.’ Allowing students the opportunity to lend their voice is a positive step in the right direction,” said Shannon Leversedge, a MI Parent Edge member.

Students from Mercer Island High School, Islander Middle School and local elementary schools shared their thoughts for the campaign — which was run by MI Parent Edge volunteers in cooperation with the schools — and some of their wishes included:

“I Wish…” — “My peers knew how other people can see things differently.” “My parents knew that school isn’t easy, it’s like a full-time job.” “My peers knew how it feels to be left out.” “My peers knew that just because someone thinks differently doesn’t make them wrong.” “My teachers knew that they’re the best people at their job.”

Soon after the students contributed their wishes — some of which were recorded by KMIH 88.9 The Bridge to promote the campaign — a host of “I wish my peers knew…” responses were posted in the high school and middle school hallways to encourage a dialogue between students.

MI Parent Edge members also shared the responses with Mercer Island School District administration and educators, who could then discuss the wishes with their students and “think about ways they might reduce the pressure and best support their students,” according to the campaign site. In addition, parents are sharing their responses through emails and on Instagram and Facebook.

“I Wish…” further made an impact at the recent Intercollegiate Broadcasting System awards, where KMIH student broadcasters won an award for their promo series for the campaign. KMIH senior student general manager Gabe Gottesman said in a previous Reporter article that their voice can enact change and have an impact on the community.

Lori Cohen-Sanford, a MI Parent Edge member, said her group’s partnership with KMIH is her personal highlight of the program: “It has been a lot of work to put the program together, and having the radio broadcast students lend their time and talent and the KMIH advisers jumping on board to support it has been nothing short of amazing. Kudos to all of them for their dedication and achievements.”

The “I Wish…” project arose through the programming that MI Parent Edge sponsored in partnership with Challenge Success, a nonprofit affiliated with the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. During a MI Parent Edge presentation earlier this year, Challenge Success parent and faculty educator Douglas Tsoi said his team’s program implements research-based solutions to get kids more engaged with learning and promotes student well-being.

“The idea is to ‘listen in’ to center student voices and lend impact to the Challenge Success messaging around redefining what success looks like,” Cohen-Sanford said of the “powerful and important” campaign. “The academic pressure that students felt on Mercer Island and in many high-achieving school communities around the country can be best understood by asking students to tell parents, teachers and peers what ‘they wish’ they knew about the pressure to succeed.”

Added Leversedge: “Speaking with parents, they all want the best for their kids. We live in an achievement culture with extrinsic rewards. We have to make sure we are looking out for intrinsic rewards as well.”

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