If you listen closely, you can hear a whisper in Adairsville Middle School. It is not a murmur, mutter, or mumble, though, it is a movement that is raising student leaders, fighting back against loneliness and isolation, and changing the lives of students one conversation at a time.
“The community needs to understand that we are living in an epidemic of loneliness,” said Whisper Founder Bryan Davidson. “Seventy-three percent of Generation Z say they feel alone, and students are showing more signs of anxiety and depression than before COVID-19.”
In an effort to reverse nationwide trends, Whisper, a local, nonprofit organization, landed at AMS during the 2021-2022 academic year.
Whisper is a grassroots movement that empowers students to change the culture of their school through the power of simple conversations.
“We are all created as relational beings,” added Davidson. “We’re made for each other. But when we’re alone, isolated, and lonely, we fail to thrive. We become islands. Conversation is a bridge that brings us together.”
Every Whisper movement begins with fire starters – the few who take ownership of the movement and spread it to others.
Meet David Coon, a recent eighth-grade graduate and fire starter.
“Whisper helps kids break out of what I call a ‘shell’ that they lock themselves into,” said Coon. "They won't talk to anyone or tell anyone what is going on, but Whisper has stopped that.”
Whisper identifies and equips leaders like David with the tools needed to facilitate meaningful interactions with friends and peers and host weekly gatherings.
Whisper worked. From a handful of AMS students to more than 300; they came together to teach and experience relational needs, such as respect, encouragement, support, compassion, and appreciation.
“It really helped so many kids and made the school a better place,” said Coon. "We made it to where almost none of those kids were locked in a ‘shell.’ Kids that didn’t talk to anyone would stop in the hallways to talk. That was the goal and the impact of Whisper.”
“Whisper is one of, if not the most, empowering student movements I've ever seen,” added AMS Principal Tony Stanfill. “The student leaders did an amazing job of first learning how to effectively communicate, then lead their peers in conversation, confidence, self-worth/awareness, and kindness towards their follow classmates. The culture changed. Students would say hello and ask, ‘How is your day going, Mr. Stanfill?’ They really wanted to know how others were doing.”
Whisper, founded in 2018, had only been in high schools until now. Since its recent success at AMS, you can anticipate this culture shift in additional schools come fall.
Whisper is the name of the movement, but the results are shout worthy.