Douglas County high school students use candy bars to spread important message

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- A group of high school students in Douglas County is trying to spread happiness through their schools.

They meet once a week to wrap candy bars with wrappers that say "You matter!" They then hand out the candy bars at school.

Amy Mays, the executive director of Happy Campaign, helped the kids come up with the idea after a rash of teen suicides in Douglas County over the past few years.

"The message is you matter. Every single person matters," Mays said.

The kids also talk about the high and low points of their day, and their stress level.

"In doing that, they really create community, they really listen, they learn how to respond when someone says my stress level is an eight," Mays said. "One thing I really want to do is equip them to listen to reach out and to know they can make a difference."

Why candy?

"The candy bar is an easy vehicle. Every kid likes candy bars. They will all take a candy bar," Mays said. "If you walk up to someone and say hey I want to give you a candy bar, they will say hey that's weird, but I'll take it or they might just start talking back to you."

That conversation, they hope, might save a life.

A friend and teammate of Nichols Neff committed suicide two years ago.

"We talked about how we mourned a lot and talked about it with our team and we really hadn't done anything to help out with our community, with our friends and school," Neff said.

"We did this to build everyone back up. It's basically a suicide awareness campaign. We're not really enforcing anything, we just let our peers know at our schools that others are going through the same thing they are and we are always here to talk to them if they need anything."

They give out about $1,000 worth of candy each month at four schools. The idea is catching on and spreading.

To help their cause, donations of full-size candy bars or cash are accepted. There will be two candy drives over the next two weeks.

Candy can be dropped off at:

  • Rausch Motors (18225 Pondersosa Drive, Parker) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday
  • Empower Centers (6530 S. Yosemite St. Suite 210, Greenwood Village) from 9:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Dec. 22, 26, 27 and 28. Donation boxes are available when the office is closed.