_DSC_0243Tess Mitchell knows, firsthand, how much words can hurt.

And now, she’s part of a group promoting the use of words that heal.

As part of her Leadership and Communication class at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Mitchell and her classmates founded “Be The One,” a campaign promoting positive social media use.

It started out as an assignment, but ended up being so much more.

“Personally, I’ve experienced bullying and the negative side effects of social media,” Mitchell said. “We all have something that makes us super-passionate about this project, our own little spark that makes us all invested.” Other key students have included Caroline Blackwood, Hannah Friedrich, Rose Lacy, Peder Sviggum, Jessica Vitale, and Brenna Wermers.

As a junior public relations major, Mitchell knows the power of words, and the importance of choosing the right words to communicate effectively and positively.

To bring the message beyond Saint Mary’s, members of the Communication and Leadership class talked with Winona Cotter Junior High students to talk with key social media users.

Their message wasn’t necessarily “anti-bullying.” Instead, the focus was on keeping it positive with the slogan: “More posts. More positivity. Our campaign is dedicated to positive social media use. All it takes is one person. BE THE ONE.”

It was an important message for the young Instagrammers, Snapchatters and Tweeters to hear. Students conveyed it’s too easy to lose control of something put up in a split-second decision online. Some postings can have lingering consequences.

Additionally, on Saint Mary’s Winona Campus, students did an interactive creative poster design to spread awareness last week. “Our logo is a handprint to symbolize the individual,” Mitchell said. “We asked other students to put their handprints on the banner together as a pledge to promote positivity on our social media platform.”

Student leaders want the campaign to be a legacy that is continued by the next group of passionate students. To hear more about their work, check them out on Facebook and Instagram at #betheonewinona.

Inset: Frydha Cordova-Frago after leaving her handprint on the Be The One poster.

Above: Tess Mitchell and Peder Sviggum watch as Emily Vlahos signs a Be The One poster and pledges to be positive on social media.

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