P.S. I Love You

Shoreham-Wading River High School senior Giavanna Verdi is working to turn four simple words into a life-changing movement with the district’s second annual P.S. I Love You Day campaign. The event, which is held on the second Friday of February, asks that participants dress in purple to signify their solidarity against bullying in the hopes that it will end depression and suicide. Since its inception at the high school last year, the campaign has grown to include all five of the district’s schools.

Giavanna’s journey to spreading hope and love to the Shoreham-Wading River community and beyond began in her sophomore year when she attended the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference at Adelphi University as a youth ambassador. There, she worked with students from the tri-state area to brainstorm and develop ideas on how to become better peer, societal and community leaders. It was during this time that Giavanna learned about P.S. I Love You Day, a campaign started in 2010 by a Long Island student. In 2012, Giavanna organized the event for students in grades nine-12 but knew that she wanted to expand within a year’s time.

In order to generate the most success and meaning within each school, Giavanna met with the building principals, who along with peers, parents and siblings, supported her and the campaign 110 percent, she said. From there, Giavanna held assemblies, sent home letters and spoke in classrooms to spread the word about what students throughout the grades could do to be a part of the mission. “The approach varied slightly between the schools to make it age-appropriate, but the message was the same,” said Giavanna. “The campaign works to end bullying and prevent suicides by letting kids know that there is always someone there to support them and listen. It is a time for students to open up, talk to one another and maybe even get involved with student awareness groups like Natural Helpers.”

On Feb. 14, Giavanna set up a table in the high school where students could make donations to benefit the Long Island Crisis Center and obtain commemorative purple bracelets, pencils, bandanas and car magnets. Students were also welcomed to contribute to the P.S. I Love You wall by writing a positive message to serve as an extra boost of happiness and encouragement. The event raised approximately five times more than the previous year, but had an even bigger emotional and social impact.

“It takes one person to start an initiative, but it takes a group to make it something bigger,” said Giavanna. “These four words have the power to change a life.”

Giavanna’s sister Marchella, a Shoreham Wading-River High School sophomore, will be continuing the campaign next year.