Armed with a sign, Park City High School student spreads message that has gone viral
June 2, 2015
Robbie Borders wants to make your day better.
And it’s likely he has if you’ve happened to drive by him over the past few months. Every day after school, the Park City High School student has been holding a sign on State Road 224 that delivers a hopeful message: "Smile, you are beautiful."
Borders’ message soon went viral around the state when his friend posted a picture of him with his sign on social media. Seemingly everyone, he said, was talking about what he was doing. On Monday, he was honored for his efforts during the high school’s annual recognition assembly.
"I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback," he said. "I’ve had people pulling over and telling me I’ve been doing a good job and making people’s day."
Borders’ inspiration for the idea came from a friend who committed suicide. Borders wanted others to know that isn’t the only way out.
"He had told people to smile, even though he was suffering depression," Borders said of his friend. "So I thought it would be a good idea to put up a sign to show to other people saying that, ‘You can smile because you’re original, and no one can judge you because of that.’"
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Other students quickly took notice. The Summit County Suicide Prevention Coalition had tasked the school’s Latinos in Action club with forming a suicide awareness campaign. The club immediately thought of Borders and centered the campaign around his message.
As part of the campaign, students were given dog tags that read "SYAB" as they left the assembly Monday. They were asked to take pictures with the dog tags and something or someone that is special to them and post them to social media with the hashtag "#worthliving."
Sam Walsh, the high school’s intervention counselor, said Borders’ efforts have been inspiring, particularly because he admits to being bullied for much of his life.
"Seeing a victim of bullying step up and say, ‘Hey, that happened to me, but I’m OK and I can make the world a better place’ is such a hopeful message for the younger kids," Walsh said.
She added that the student body has seemed to rally around Borders.
"I think everybody has heard about it and seems to think it’s really cool," she said. "They drive by and honk at him. I watch that happen. So I think he’s getting a lot of admiration and respect from his peers, which is great."
Borders said he wants to spread his message for the rest of his life. He knows what it’s like to be bullied and to feel that pain, and he wants to make sure others don’t have to.
"I’m going to college soon, then when I’m done with that, I want to do a road trip around the country," he said. "I want to make it go viral in every state."
For more information on suicide prevention, or if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. For more information on the Summit County Suicide Prevention Coalition, contact Geri Essen at email@example.com .