West Anchorage High School YANA Club

Macy Cruz, Reporter

At West Anchorage High School there are many clubs, and activities, one of them being the Y.A.N.A. club, which means, “you are not alone.” The club focuses on suicide awareness and prevention. The group meets every Tuesday in room 57. Every month they try to have pizza during their meetings, which also helps bring in some new members. Their goal is to have a safe, and fun place for students who might feel a little alone, or that would like to spread awareness through the school to have a place to spend time with other students.

        One of the members, Tiara Merculieff 18 years old, and a senior at West, says, “I like YANA a lot, because it helps people.” She has been a member of the club since the beginning of her senior year. Some of the tasks she does as a member is: hand out candy to the kids that sit alone, stick positive messages on the students lockers, and go to classes to share awareness about suicide. Since she has started in the club her public speaking, and presentation skills have shown much improvement, in her opinion.

        One of the group leaders, Carri Jones, found out about YANA though cross-country running. There had been an issue at another school, and she had gotten involved, which led to West starting up it’s own YANA club. Her favorite part about the club is, “Seeing all the smiles on my homies faces,” she said. She had mentioned that what’s so great about YANA is that it’s a fun, safe, and casual club to be in.

Another senior student at West, Pailin Khaekram, 18, has been a member since last year of 2015. She joined the club, because of a student who had been going through a rough time their freshman year, and so she wanted to become more aware of the situation the student had been going through, and share that awareness also. She would like to travel and share more about what she has learned in YANA, so that hopefully other people will get involved also.

There are some adult leaders, and many students involved in the club, all bringing positive attitudes to the room, sharing kindness, and awareness. Presentations are very helpful to the kids to start understanding signs and symptoms of depression. It also shows them how important it is to tell a safe adult if you have concerns of someone being suicidal. It’s important to not only have an adult talking to the students, because they have adults talking to them all day long. And it’s easier for students to connect and relate to the other student presenters. Remember that you are not alone.