High School Restroom Makeover to Empower Students

A Peacemaking Project by Rachel W.

What is the injustice we are solving?

I would like to solve the injustice of the lack of compassion within my school’s climate and culture. Instead of helping others, students have become accustomed to discouraging one another. My school also has an injustice of a disconnected student body. Most students tend to support their peers only if they are involved with the same interests and extracurriculars as them. This division has caused an uneven distribution of support among all the diverse student groups at my school. The injustices of an uncompassionate atmosphere and a disconnected student body has sacrificed a sense of empowerment within the school community.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of a lack of positivity within the school’s climate and culture
we will address the absence of a visually engaging and empowering environment
by renovating our school’s restrooms with inspirational quotes that promote positivity, kindness, and teamwork.

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • To renovate our school’s restrooms with the intent of incorporating messages that will promote positivity, kindness, and collaboration within the student body
  • Students will have access to a place every day where they can feel valued and inspired.
  • To model to students what an encouraging atmosphere values.
  • The student body as a whole will start to adopt a mindset of wanting to help and extend kindness to others.

We will increase my / our compassion by...

To ensure renovating the school’s bathrooms is approached with sensitivity towards solving the injustice of a lack of a positive climate and culture, I will design the bathrooms with the intent of catering to the entire student body, not just student groups that I am involved with. I will show that I am compassionate about the inclusivity of the entire student body by creating a way for students of all different backgrounds to be involved in the design process of the bathrooms. This can be done through online surveys.

How will you show courage?

The obstacle I fear the most for this project is having approval from my school’s administrators. I will show courage by presenting to admin how renovating the bathrooms will have a positive long-term impact on the school’s atmosphere. I will also continue to show courage by developing solutions to solve any risks or issues that may arise.

How will you collaborate with others?

To ensure that the makeover of the bathrooms includes student insight, I will ask students to suggest quotes. I will also have the student body vote on potential designs. I will also collaborate with the school’s art students by asking them to draw an illustration of an image they could paint on the stall doors. I will also continue to communicate with the school’s administrators by providing them with updates. Also, along with my Student Council advisors, together we will create a budget that uses the funds for the project efficiently.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

To measure the growth of student perception towards the school, a scale can be used. Open-ended questions can be asked after students rate their perception to analyze qualitative trends. When this project is successful, there would also be a decrease in vandalism in the bathrooms.

Key Steps

  • Research prices of paint, vinyl, and other supplies needed to renovate the restrooms.
  • Create a budget with the help and guidance of my Student Council advisors.
  • Present the idea and budget plan to admin for approval.
  • Find ways to fund the renovation.
  • Ask students for suggestions for quotes, themes, and input on potential designs.
  • Create an online survey for the student body to vote on potential designs.
  • Present the selected designs to admin with a timeline of when each bathroom will be renovated.
  • Buy supplies needed.
  • Start the renovation process by cutting out the quoted designs on vinyl.

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

After painting the quotes to solve our injustice of a lack of positivity in our school’s climate and culture, I finally realized how much our school truly lacked positive and motivational quotes. Although adding motivational quotes into our school is relatively a simple idea, I finally understood that students are always looking for something to inspire them for their own self-growth. By painting the walls with positive quotes, I realized that our injustice could be solved by people who want to empower and inspire others. Simply, that positivity is shared as a ripple effect when students feel like someone believes that they are capable of accomplishing great things.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

Students felt that they were being cared for. For the past few years, it had become evident that our school’s bathrooms have been overlooked. There was trash in sinks, half the locks were broken, and overall, the bathrooms looked bland. Now, with the newly painted quotes on the walls, students could see that the school does care about a facility that they use every day.

How many people were impacted by your project?

998

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

My school has roughly about 1300 students. Many of these students use the bathroom daily. Every day, they are supplied with a quote to think about.

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

I learned that students really do appreciate a simple “face-lift.” I learned that students feel a lack of positivity in their school culture when the school doesn’t seem like it is in a state of change. When students came back on the first day of school, students were excited to see something new and fresh in what was originally just a boring wall. The new change made students feel inspired.

What did your team learn?

My team consisted of other members in student council as well as my student council advisors. One thing we learned was how to design the quotes so that everyone would like them. We learned that we had to balance out different colors and fonts to please a wide range audience. We didn’t want the quotes to resonate with only the sports or musicians students; we wanted to be inclusive of everyone. We wanted to choose and design quotes that could be applied to every unique student’s life.

What challenges did your team overcome?

We had to overcome the challenge of communication with our school’s administration and our custodians. When I initially presented this idea to our school’s principal, I was hoping she would talk to the custodians about the approval of the idea. I learned that I had to talk to the custodians myself to ask about our restrict actions when painting the bathrooms. I also was conflicted when my school’s principal wanted us to paint the quotes, while the custodians wanted us to use vinyl. It became harder to communicate with both admin and custodians when the school year ended. Luckily, my advisors were able to set up a meeting with both the custodians and admin at the same time and place which would, in the end, help us finalize what we were allowed to do.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

I asked other members of my student council to help me with painting the quotes. My council has a large variety of students, so I asked them to help out designing the quotes. Since we have students of all different backgrounds, I depended on the opinions of the other student representatives in my council to share if they felt that the designs we chose would appeal to everyone. The custodians also helped us out with supplying us with tarps, paint, and rags. They also painted a wall with fresh paint for a blank canvas for us. My student council advisors also helped me coordinate times where we could come in and paint over the summer.

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

My project needed to be approved by my school’s administration. Our principal at first didn’t like the initial designs I presented and suggested some of her own quotes and preferred style. I found myself conflicted because I needed approval from admin for the designs, but I wanted to keep ownership of my vision for the project. My advice for anyone whose project requires approval from an administrator is to make sure your visions align without feeling like you lost ownership of your project. Luckily, we were able to come together to make designs that we both liked.

Our Updates:

Starting to Paint!

Rachel W. 23 July 2019 12:48 Yesterday, we outlined our designs on our bathroom walls in chalk. Today, Sand Creek High School StuCo is helping to the designs.
The quotes that were chosen:
"You will never regret being kind."
"Take the risk or lose the chance!"
"Be the reason someone smiles today."
"Successful people never worry about what others are doing."

Finished Painting

Rachel W. 4 August 2019 15:19 Last week, we finished painting all 4 quote designs. We will be painting 4 more bathrooms over fall break. Here is one of the quotes we painted in the girl's bathroom!

Comments:

Fish S. Peace First Staff
11 January 2019 19:16

One more thing to think about - how can you use this as an opportunity to get students involved who may not currently be taking a leadership role at your school, but are really into art?  

Andrea C. Peace First Staff
14 January 2019 17:09

Hi Rachel,

I am Andrea from Peace First :) How was your Monday? Mine was quite inspiring. Actually, you inspired me! I read the projects we have received from the Colorado challenge (yours and the young people that participated in the lab!). I am so inspired by your work and your determination to solve this injustice.

I think you should check the other projects, and share your ideas and suggestions by leaving a comment. Remember that we are a community and we all love to get feedback from our peers :)

Find here the links to the other projects:
Find Your Voice (Greeley, CO): https://www.peacefirst.org/project/find-your-voice-greeley-co
Project We Care Colorado: https://www.peacefirst.org/project/project-we-care-colorado
Day Without Hate: https://www.peacefirst.org/project/day-without-hate

As always, let me know if you have any question. I’ll be more than happy to answer.

Best,
Andrea
 

Andrea C. Peace First Staff
31 January 2019 16:02

Hi Rachel,

How are you? Just one more step to get a mini-grant for up to $250! You are so close to implement your project and address the injustices in your community! :)

I noticed you hadn’t made any updates lately and I wonder if you have any question on how to fill out the mini-grant application. I am here to help you! I am hoping to hear from you soon so I can process your mini-grant and send the check your way.

Best,
Andrea  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
6 March 2019 14:28

Hi Rachel! Ready to submit your mini-grant? Your plan is approved and we're excited to help you bring it to life.  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
13 April 2019 20:29

Hey Rachel! I noticed you hadn't submitted your mini-grant application yet and wanted to check in. We really believe on what you're working on, we think your plan is great, and we're ready to support it with a grant of up to $250 -- so send in your mini-grant application as soon as you can!