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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Gators write hand-written words of encouragement to students

More than 30 students wrote letters to fellow Gators on Monday evening during Words of Encouragement, a program aimed to help students adjust to college life.

Saneh Ste. Claire, an 18-year-old UF telecommunication freshman, proposed the idea to Graham Area Council’s community service committee and then partnered with U Matter, We Care and To Write Love On Her Arms.

Ste. Claire was inspired after a UF freshman and classmate having a hard time died recently. Ste. Claire thought “if she had had just one person reach out to her, something could have been different.”

Hand-written, old-school letters from peers are more meaningful than online resources from strangers, she said.

The committee will submit the letters to the Dean of Students Office, where they will be given to students who have reached out.

According to the Counseling & Wellness Center’s annual report, about 45,000 student appointments were made in 2012-13. Of those, 2,660 presented anxiety problems, 1,938 were depressed, and 1,684 expressed social isolation and loneliness.

Tina Tannen, a CWC mental health counselor, said resources on the center’s website and programs like Words of Encouragement let students know they’re not invisible.

“Even if they’re still lonely,” she said, “they don’t feel like they’re also crazy.”

[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 4/1/2014 under the headline "Gators write words of encouragement"]

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