Inside the People’s Purpose Project

Members+of+Peoples+Purpose+Project+and+Mrs.+Sutka+pose+together+after+their+Images+of+Resilience+event.

courtesy of Kaylee Bartons

Members of People’s Purpose Project and Mrs. Sutka pose together after their Images of Resilience event.

Over the entirety of 2020, people faced many hardships and dealt with their mental health deteriorating due to these challenges, which encouraged two students to create the People’s Purpose Project (PPP).
“Hana [Fiore] came up with the initial idea while we were at a mental health summit,” Vice President of PPP Kaylee Barton said. “After seeing all of the projects that different schools have started, we decided to start our own.”
Teen Task Force was a group similar to PPP where students would meet up during their lunch period and were able to reach out to people if needed, or just relax with people and play games or even hang out with therapy dogs.
“Teen Task Force was great. It was formed on the fact that kids could come to eat lunch and be casual with one another,” RHS social worker Maria Sutka said. “Unfortunately, COVID took that opportunity away from us, since it would be unsafe to meet like we did last year. Also, Teen Task Force was something that I began with the Guidance Center, but this was an initiative the kids started on their own; as a student, you’re much more likely to attend something, or be a part of something that’s run by your peers as opposed to adults.”
The students that are involved in this group are extremely passionate about the mental health of others, especially with the year that everyone just went through, and allowing people to have a safe space to talk about anything.
“The seniors, in particular, have had a lot of challenges to overcome, and the class has done a really good job of supporting one another during this time,” Sutka said. “This group of kids is very passionate about the work they are doing because of these circumstances that their class has endured.”
One of the events that this group has had so far was their Images of Resilience live stream that was held early December of this school year.
“The event was hosted between People’s Purpose Project and the Guidance Center,” President Hana Fiore said. “We had three different people come up and tell their stories of the challenges that they have had to go through, and the ways that they overcame those challenges.”
One of the speakers in that event was Wilson teacher Mary Cahalan, who spoke about losing her son, Matthew Cahalan, just a few short years ago.
“Matthew was one of the biggest reasons why we wanted to start this group,” Barton said. “Along with all the other lives we have lost, it had a huge impact on us and so many other people throughout these last few years, and we really wanted to make a difference.”
Another movement of the PPP was Brain Health Matters, which has become a slogan for the group.
“Stephanie Prechter, the director of the University of Michigan- Dearborn mental health board, has been using that saying for years,” Barton said. “She wanted to help us with this project, so we kind of picked up on that, and even made merchandise with that phrase on it to help support this group.”
Their next project, which will be held on February 10th, will be all about domestic violence, and they will have a guest speaker who will tell their story, and help others to avoid this type of violence.
“This project is called Spread the Love,” Barton said. “Our guest speaker is Nicole Beverly, who is a part of the ENOUGH initiative (a non-profit organization dedicated to providing domestic violence prevention through education and awareness), and also a survivor of domestic violence. She is going to tell her story, and give our community audience the resources they need, and the signs and red flags of domestic violence.”
A main goal of this group as time passes, is to become a non-profit organization.
“We want to take that extra step and spread the word of this group,” Barton said. “We don’t want this to just be in our school, we want it to be in schools all around Michigan, so anyone and everyone have access to the help that we hope to provide to anyone that is struggling.”