APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – What you say and how you say it has a significant impact on those around you. Students attending one local school say people their age should be mindful of how they speak to others.

“Our generation just sucks, and I think it’s because most people feel bad about themselves that they take it out on other people in order to make them feel enlightened or powerful in ways,” said Mashala Coffee, a student at Appleton East High School.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words have hurt me, she added.

“I’ve been bullied the majority of all my life. It was not until high school where I started standing up for myself and knowing my worth and the things I can overcome,” stated Coffee.

Appleton East’s ‘Word’s Matter’ initiative allows students and staff to acknowledge empathy in their community. Students say highlighting their words makes a difference in how they communicate. 

“Being high schoolers in this generation, there’s a lot of different ways that people can be hurtful toward each other with social media or in person, and I think this really gets the word out about different ways you can go about things instead of being hurtful,” explained Lydiah Stephens, another student at Appleton East. 

English teacher Lana Thiel started the month-long initiative in 2009. The staff of Appleton East High School says the importance of comprehending how your words can affect someone is priceless.  

“For all students, regardless of if they’re in my English class or not, I think they need to understand the impact of their words that they can lift people up or they can bring people down depending on how they frame things for other people and themselves,” explained Thiel.

“We want our student body to be aware of people’s differences and how they can impact and help by using their words,” stated Appleton East Principal Jacque Smedberg. 

Coffee graduates from Appleton East in a year and encourages young people to remain confident and kind regardless of the words they hear. 

“Stay true to yourself, like know your worth and just do what makes you happy don’t try to follow other people’s footsteps or try to blend in just stay who you are because you are unique and beautiful in your own type of way,” said Coffee.