NORTH BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There are a lot of hearts floating around area schools Friday and it’s not even Valentine’s Day.
It’s a different day devoted to spreading the love and it’s spreading across the nation. It’s called “P.S. I Love You Day.”
A purple wave sweeping across Long Island schools signaled the special day focused on simple but noble goals:
“To make other people happy and that makes me happy,” one Long Island student said.
“We always want to make people feel like they are included,” a classmate told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
“When I see someone is being picked on I say something.”
In North Babylon children practice kindness and write words of encouragement to staff. The halls decked out with hearts; lockers papered with loving sentiments.
“We want them to know if there is anything that’s bothering them there are people here who care and can help – we love them,” Parliament Place Elementary School principal Drew Olson said.
Schools in ten states now participate in a movement borne out of a local tragedy.
Brooke DiPalma of West Islip lost her father, a retired NYPD officer, to suicide nine years ago. He reportedly took his life after he sent Brooke off to middle school by saying “I love you.”
She created this day to help prevent suicide and stand up to bullying.
“Kids are going to get the message they need to be kinder and they need to understand what it means to be depressed,” DiPalma said.
Along with this special day, mental health education is now required curriculum in New York State.
Many believe the earlier the better.
“If you can start here and have them understand not everyone gets invited to the party, and that’s okay. Find your own party,” 5th grade teacher Staci Manning said.
Brooke’s idea is spreading the message that love can and should be taught in school. Just be nice, it could save a life.
The group estimates that 140,000 people were wearing purple Friday in observance of “P.S. I Love You Day.”