Duval County

High school senior hands out ‘kindness bags’ fighting suicide, bullying, gun violence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A high school senior at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology is making waves in spreading awareness of some of the toughest issues students face today: suicide, gun violence, and bullying.

It all began last year when Cassie Peniza started handing out little bags with treats in them to her fellow students.

Kindness bags, as she called them, included pictures and factoids about school shooting victims.

Peniza tells Action News Jax, she did this to keep the victims’ memories alive.

With the help of Communities in Schools, a program that’s served over 100,000 Jacksonville students facing challenges since 1990, Cassie hit a record this past semester: she handed out 600 kindness bags.

The response was so overwhelming that Cassie took her project a step further.

She put posters on the walls at school, addressing suicide, gun violence, and bullying.

Students then signed the posters that they related to.

Cassie tells Action News Jax close to 500 signatures were put on the posters.

Cassie says she’s hoping her project raises awareness and offers comfort to those going through tough times.

Action News Jax reached out to DCPS, and the district reports that one-in-five teens have a mental illness, yet less than 20 percent receive the treatment they need.

The district says it’s fighting that statistic by hosting “Wellness Wednesdays” for students where they address mental health and emotional wellness.

For more information on that, click HERE.

The district also tells Action News Jax it has social workers and psychologists on hand for students.

Click the links below for more helpful resources from DCPS: