On Saturday residents from all parts of town gathered outside GHS to support the Yellow Tulip Project‘s goal to “smash the stigma” and get their hands dirty planting bulbs.
Two YTP ambassadors Bridget Carriello (GHS class of 2024) Emily Sedgwick (Sacred Heart Greenwich class of 2024) brought the organization to Greenwich.
Bridget said that stigma keeps people from reaching out to get the help they need.
“We’re here today to plant a hope garden because when communities come together to plant a garden and get their hands dirty, hope happens.”
Emily said the founder of YTP, Julia Hansen, lost two of her best friends to suicide. One of her friends favorite flowers were tulips and the other friend’s favorite color was yellow. (Watch Hansen’s TEDx talk here.)
Yellow Tulip Project coordinated with multiple local groups on the planting project, including the PTA Council Health & Wellness committee, Parks & Rec, Kids in Crisis, Greenwich Together, the First Selectman’s Youth Commission and the GHS Outreach Club.
Kathy Steiner, a longtime GHS wellness teacher who is advisor of the Outreach Club said October’s theme is hope, resilience and resources for help.
“By getting connected to the YTP we can create hope gardens,” Steiner said. “When we see these yellow tulips coming up in spring, we feel that coming through hard times, coming through life’s challenges and breaking through to the sun that there is hope and there is help, and we want our Greenwich community to come together and be a part of healing, resilience and helping those in need.”
Carina Restrepo from Kids in Crisis noted Saturday was the last day of Mental Health Awareness Week. She said 50% of youth in public and private schools surveyed in 2021 by Greenwich Together reported that in the previous 30 days they had experienced feelings of sadness, depression and loneliness.
“In our community we do have children going through difficult times,” she said.
Danielle Jean-Guillaume Sittol, the Youth Services Bureau Administrator for Greenwich, said she works with agencies and town departments to partner with youth in a variety of programs.
“We work to create spaces where youth can pause, process, and develop skills to navigate their world and balance their many commitments,” she said, adding that next month the First Selectman’s Youth Commission that she facilitates, is launching a program called Conscious Coping. It will be an opportunity to help young people develop effective coping skills and ways to manage the stresses in their lives.
“That will also include connecting them to the resources in their schools and to the community agencies that work to support them,” she said.
“When we think of our young people, we speak about their resilience and their ability to overcome and bounce back, despite the challenges they face. There were even people who thought that during a global pandemic, resilience would protect them from all the traumatic interruptions in their lives. But, sincerely, resilience is not enough.”
“In my work, and in our effort to validate, empower and support our young people, we remind them to be present. We remind our kids to slow down and chill out a little bit. I encourage them to reimagine plans and that it’s okay to change things up a bit. Most important, it is okay to ask for help.”
“And parents, adults – we have to do that too” she added. “We have to model this behavior of help-seeking so kids will do the same.”
Kathy Steiner, a longtime GHS wellness teacher who leads the Outreach Club, noted that on Saturday, results of a CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation poll revealed that 90% of US adults say mental health is a crisis in the United States. Barriers to mental health care include cost of care, insurance coverage, lack of providers taking insurance, stigma around mental health problems and lack of providers.
Steve Meskers, who is on the Kids in Crisis program committee said, “We think kids problems are just that – kids’ problems. We don’t recognize and validate they’re just as real and they need the same help we need when things go wrong.”
“Acknowledging and validating our children’s hurt and encouraging them to seek help is crucial.”
After receiving instructions from Darrin Wigglesworth on tulip planting – how far apart, how deep and which end is up – groups fanned out across town.
One group started planting outside GHS. Other destinations included Town Hall, Bruce Park, Binney Park, and all three middle schools.
More information on the Yellow Tulip Project is available on their website.