Most people simply go to the store when they run out of something. For others, however, it is not that simple. Especially if you are a teenager with limited resources and support.
So when Great Bend High School staff saw some of their students with unmet needs, they decided to do something about it.
The teen closet was born.
“The closet is filled with personal-hygiene products that are available to anyone with a need,” said Andrea Stalcup, teacher and Student Council sponsor. “We recognize the difficulties some students have in securing needed hygiene products.”
StuCo stocked the teen closet about a year ago with items donated through a competition between advisory classes. Since then, the high school guidance staff has maintained it with help from Future Educators of America club members.
“The First United Methodist Church and Barton County Young Professionals have both helped stock the closet and are willing to help do more drives for us as needed,” Stalcup said.
“As a teacher, you hope to inspire students to look at the world, see a problem and help be part of the solution,” she said. “This is the perfect example of students doing just that.
“On behalf of everybody that has assisted with this project, we really hope this closet is a safe place students can go to get the supplies they need to help them be successful,” Stalcup said.
“We recognize the importance of meeting students’ basic needs. We do not want to see students falling behind or avoiding coming to school because they are self-conscious.
“As of now, it sounds like besides referrals from counselors, there is not a lot of traffic,” Stalcup said. “We are brainstorming on how to make it better known and more accessible to our students.”
She noted, “it is discreet because it is in the guidance office and they just have to tell (Kay Burns, secretary) they are getting some items.”
Stalcup said students would like to see the closet expand to include clothing, shoes and coats. Other ideas include allowing students to have access to sporting equipment like kneepads, shin guards and ankle braces.
“We also would love to eventually have an area where students can get school supplies,” she said. “We could see having seasonal drives throughout the year with school supplies at the beginning of year and a coat drive later in the fall.
“There has already been such a positive response from our student body, school and community,” she said. “We would love to see this concept of students helping students spread and become contagious not only in our school but in other schools as well.”