Mesquite High School in Gilbert will receive $1,000 for creating one of the Valley's largest tangible displays of hope in the Messages of Hope Paper Chain contest hosted by Teen Lifeline.
Students wrote handwritten messages of hope and turned them into paper chains for the contest.
With 1,625 links, Mesquite earned the prize for the category for the combination of most handwritten links and most links per student enrolled.
The prize money will be used to create a permanent display of hope on the campus.
Students attending 21 Valley high schools created nearly 19,000 handwritten messages of hope during Teen Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. These tangible demonstrations of encouragement aim to help their peers struggling with depression, anxiety or thoughts of suicide.
The messages of hope were written on strips of paper and turned into paper chains. Joined together, these chains would stretch nearly one mile in length.
Connections of Hope Paper Chains are displayed in participating high schools where students can remove a link and take a message of hope with them on especially difficult days.
The messages — like “Hang in there” and “Somebody cares about you” — for the contest were meant to encourage students to uplift each other and to reach out for help when needed.
Students at North High School in Phoenix created 3,250 messages of hope, enough to stretch lengthwise across their football field more than twice. North High students earned a prize of $1,000 for their school by writing the most links of any school participating in the contest. The prize money will be used for creating a permanent display of hope on the school’s campus, such as a mural or garden.
“Feelings of hope and connection help prevent teen suicide,” said Nikki Kontz, Teen Lifeline clinical director. “Each message and link in these chains could show a troubled student they are not alone. These are sincere peer-to-peer messages providing hope and help when a student needs an emotional lift.”
Tolleson High School also won for highest ration of links to students enrolled with 2,677 links.
Since the Connections of Hope Paper Chain contest was initiated in 2019, students at participating schools have produced nearly 80,000 messages, which if strung together, would stretch for nearly 4 miles.