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There is a movement to paint over the hate-fueled election graffiti, and it's fantastic.

'We have so many people who are devastated and feel hopeless. This is a way for them to do something.'

When Olivia Trimble heard that a hate message had been spray-painted on a wall across from her town's public library, she grabbed her paint, jumped in her car, and headed over.

According to Trimble, the hateful message — a sign that read "F**ck N**gers" — had already been reported to the Fayetteville, Arkansas, police but had yet to be covered up.

“I felt moved to take it down," Trimble said. "I didn’t want my kids or any other person to see that hatred in our city.”


But she didn't just take it down...

She covered it up with a message of love.  

Image from Repaint Hate/Facebook, used with permission.

And Trimble didn't stop there.

When she got home, Trimble wrote a message on social media asking members of her community to let her know of other hateful messages that might appear.

If she could get to them, she'd cover them with uplifting messages in a matter of hours.

Soon after, Trimble began reaching out to other sign-painters, artists, and activists to ask if they would offer similar services in their own neighborhoods. Within a day, she was overwhelmed by a flood of messages from fellow painters — from Chicago to Copenhagen — pledging to do the same.

Just like that, the #RepaintHate movement was born.

Image from Jakob Engelberg/Copenhagen Signs, used with permission.

In the Repaint Hate Facebook group (which has over 3,000 members as of this writing), people can report hateful graffiti that needs covering and share pictures of the messages of love painted over them.

Earlier this week, the owners of Smoke and Barrel Tavern in Fayetteville donated a wall to Trimble, so she could continue spreading positive messages in the face of these hate crimes.

She is still also the on-call painter for any new hate graffiti that might appear in her city, but she believes there can never be too many positive messages, especially during a time where hate crimes are on the rise.

Photo via Olivia Trimble, used with permission.

Repaint Hate is far from the only group with the idea to cover up hateful messages with positive ones.

When a church in Maryland was vandalized with “Trump Nation, Whites Only” graffiti, community members got together and hung “Love Wins" posters all around the church. Students at Michigan State covered up a message painted on their school's boulder that read "Kill 'em all" with "Love 'em all." Three days after the election, Laura Molina, together with her husband Robert, covered up the hate-filled graffiti they found on the sidewalk outside the HRC headquarters in New York City:

“We have so many people who are devastated and feel hopeless," said Trimble. "This is a way for them to do something.”

Painting over these hateful messages is just one way people are taking an active stance against the recent uptick in hate crimes in this country.

A movement called "Yes, I'll accompany my neighbor" was started to accompany minorities who feel threatened on their daily commute and is picking up steam nationwide. Community members and students at Baylor University literally stood and walked with student Natasha Nkhama after she was harassed on campus by a racist. The Anti-Defamation League has taken to fighting hate crimes on a legal and governmental level.  

There are plenty of little things each and every one of us can do to make a difference. You just have to keep your eyes open, and when you see something you can make better, follow Trimble's lead — get out on the street with whatever tools you need and do something about it.

Of course, you should always report a hate crime to the SPLC and your local police department before taking action. They may also have some helpful advice on the best course of action to take.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

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