The Fraser High School and Richards Middle School Be Nice Club recently received a $10,000 grant from the “Shut Out Bullying” campaign organized by the Detroit Red Wings and Planet Fitness to help promote teen mental health.

The Fraser High School and Richards Middle School Be Nice Club recently received a $10,000 grant from the “Shut Out Bullying” campaign organized by the Detroit Red Wings and Planet Fitness to help promote teen mental health.

Photo provided by Stacy Kalpin

Fraser student group receives $10,000 grant to ‘Be Nice’

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published February 21, 2024


FRASER — A student group based out of Fraser High School and Richards Middle School was recently awarded a $10,000 grant to help combat bullying and promote mental health among local teenagers.

The grant was given by the Detroit Red Wings and Planet Fitness Shut Out Bullying campaign. The Be Nice Club at the Fraser Schools will use it to fund and promote programs benefiting students.

“The Be Nice Club is a club that originated with four student leaders who wanted to make an impact on mental health. We started it last year,” said Stacy Kalpin, a counselor at Fraser High School. “Be Nice is actually a statewide program that originated in Kalamazoo. It stands for ‘Notice, Invite, Challenge and Empower.’ It is a suicide prevention program. It is about noticing differences in people and then encouraging you to invite yourself into a conversation with them and then getting an adult.”

Fraser High School senior Adriana Barney was one of the four students who started the group. She said they were inspired after seeing resources and organizations begun at other schools.

“We attended the MYLead Youth Leadership Conference, and we met so many amazing people. And we were very inspired by the whole conference so that, when we came back to school, we just knew we needed to do something to spark change in our school culture,” she said. “We wanted to improve student mental health and foster positivity. We went to Ms. Kalpin, and we weren’t sure what we wanted to do, but we wanted to do something.”

The Be Nice Club model was something suggested to them by one of their teachers.

“Ms. (Heidi) Impellizzeri, another of our teachers, had wanted to start a Be Nice chapter at Fraser High School ,so Ms. Kalpin connected us with her,” said Barney. “She told us about the whole program, and it aligned with a lot of our ideas. We worked with the two of them to start our Be Nice chapter.”

Several members of the Fraser Be Nice Club attended the Detroit Red Wings hockey game on Feb. 10 to receive the check. Barney and her fellow chapter co-founders, Kaleigh Nordstrom, Alex Nichol and Noah Tonn, were among them.

“I was at the game when we received the check,” Barney said. “It was amazing. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I felt so proud of the accomplishments that we had made because this showed we had actually made an impact. It was very heartwarming.”

Kalpin believes they received the grant because, in their application, they drew a clear line between bullying, mental health and the causes of teen suicide.

“It was definitely surprising. We’re very excited. We think it will help grow the program and possibly help a lot of students. We were honored that they are supporting what we’re doing,” she said. “The grant was open to every educator in Michigan. It really was asking how we were addressing bullying in our schools. I made the case that bullying results from mental health concerns. Creating a culture where students have positive relationships with peers is a shift from how we traditionally deal with bullying, which more focuses on discipline.”

The money will help support Fraser’s Be Nice chapter activities in numerous ways.

“We do a community wellness night where we invite the community in and have raffles and cookies and discuss topics like mental health and suicide prevention,” said Kalpin. “We also do a Mental Health Night each year. We want to do what is called Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support. This is where we give people incentives for doing the right thing. We also hope to do a mental health first-aid training where students can be trained to recognize the signs of depression.”

“I hope that we can continue to spark change,” added Barney. “With this grant money, we can continue to keep putting on events like our Winter Wellness program and perhaps start new programs that help spark discussions about mental health and suicide prevention. We can now also send more students to the MYLead conference and to the national Be Nice Symposium.”

Barney stressed how important addressing issues like mental health and teen suicide are and hopes this grant will mean their organization can make big steps to address them.

“One of our initial messages is ‘you are not alone.’ Especially among my peers, no one wants to talk about their mental health or the things bugging them,” she said. “With the Be Nice Club, no matter what you are feeling or what you are going through, you can connect with your peers on a deeper level. Pushing that message out to students is important because suicide rates have risen in the past few years. With us noticing when something is off, inviting them in to have a conversation, acknowledging them and challenging the stigma of mental health and empowering yourself and others to proceed with this process can make a huge difference.”