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‘We just want to splash some happiness on the wall’

Two parents 'just want to spread as much love as (they) can' at Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School in Bradford

Look up while visiting the guidance office or the resource centre at Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School in Bradford and you’re likely to see the writing is on the wall.

That’s thanks to the efforts of two parent council members, Josie Patera and Lisa Artuso, and their Spread the Love Project, which has seen vinyl prints of inspirational quotes installed on some walls around the school to create a positive atmosphere and provide students and staff with uplifting messages.

The pair said they chose a combination of phrases they found to be particularly positive, some from Bible verses and some from elsewhere, to try to make sure the project is relatable, not just for Christianity students, but for those of other faiths as well.

“We just want to spread as much love as we can. We just want these kids to be happy, we want them to know that they’re loved and they’re not alone,” Patera said.

“Whatever brings them peace, whatever religion they are — it doesn’t matter — where ever you find your peace. Everyone has a belief system, but to believe in something beyond themselves is so important. If you’re just self-absorbed it can create a self-sabotage in your life. This is spiritual,” Artuso added.

The prints were installed just before school started with the help of donations from Crozier Consulting in Bradford as well as New Life Christian Church in Vaughan, and printed courtesy of Addictive Design in Bradford.

Initially, Artuso found a video of the concept being implemented at a school in the U.S. and shared it with Patera, who suggested they should bring it to the principal and council to implement it in the school.

The pair were especially enthusiastic about the plan because they both use quotes to help bring positive thinking to their own lives, with Artuso being a mindset coach and Patera tackling negativity through her work as a fitness coach and personal trainer.

In addition to both going into their third years on the parent council, they have also both helped with supply teaching in classes, giving them insight into the types of issues in the school and some of the students’ struggles, including anxiety, depression and other mental-health issues — which they said were especially prevalent during the pandemic.

“It’s interesting, because people don’t realize, you’re not the only one who has negative thoughts; we all have negative thoughts. It’s normal; it’s just the way our brain functions,” Artuso said.

“It’s recognizing that negative thought and how to get yourself out of it,” Patera added.

The most recent addition to the school is actually the second time the pair have helped spread the good words, after a similar project last year saw quotes installed in the bathrooms just before the beginning of the school year in September.

Unfortunately, those prints were vandalized and ultimately removed, but not before they received some positive feedback.

“You learn as you go. We just wanted to make the washrooms a more welcoming place and it did go over well. A lot of the girls loved it,” Patera said.

In response, the second set of quotes were mostly installed higher up and in locations where more students were likely to spend more time, especially those who might be struggling or hurting.

“We just want to splash some happiness on the wall. Maybe the more that you see it around the school it will just encourage people to be more positive,” Patera said.

“And not bully, and put people under the bus, and be kind and loving and have all the fruits of the spirit,” Artuso added.

There was no specific criteria for which quotes the pair decided to use, according to Artuso.

“I think we were just led to certain quotes they really spoke to us. Like the one about the power of the tongue in the library. That one is key because if we don’t watch what comes out of our mouths, we can really destroy the other person. Words can destroy the spirit,” she said.

The response to the second installation has been even greater than the first, according to the pair, who said both parents and teachers have told them they’d like to see something similar in other schools as well.

While he was teaching elsewhere during the initial installation last year, Michael Borgia, principal at Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School, fully supports the project, and when he saw the new prints being installed recently, “it warmed my heart really.”

In addition to creating a positive atmosphere, Borgia also thinks the quotes are helping to bring more faith in to the school

“I see those quotes thriving everyday with our students. I think it’s going to be another addition to the positive school climate and culture that we have,” he said.

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Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
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