Location: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
Potential Impact: 400 teachers, 800 total staff, 10,000 students
In September 2018, we received a heart-rending email from a school counselor in Saipan, the largest island in the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. She sought Pure Edge’s help for Saipan’s students, emphasizing that being an island in the middle of the ocean makes it nearly impossible to convince organizations on the mainland to offer professional development of educators.
Not only was Saipan fighting to recover from a devastating typhoon, but it had recently seen a 17% increase in teen suicides.
When two teenage best friends died from suicide within one week of each other, the close-knit community knew they had to act. They hired the territory’s first ever child psychologist and searched for other resources to support their youth, ultimately leading them to Pure Edge. The commissioner of education invited the team to CNMI to implement a three-day Culture of Care training. Over 250 educators, community members and administrators attended the training days. Two of the three training days were paid work days for CNMI employees. Day three was scheduled for a Saturday and would therefore be an unpaid day for the participants.
Incredibly, 94% of participants showed up voluntarily.
The educators of Saipan were highly invested in accessing the knowledge and resources to care for themselves and their students, A ballroom full of educators showed up eager to equip their students with mindfulness techniques and took a proactive approach to caring for the mental health of Saipan’s youth.