Lilly Barber and Kendra Moody, seventh-graders and Westside Middle School Student Council members, test their QR code for the group’s new project, “Who Cares? Warriors Care.”

JONESBORO — The middle school Student Council members at Westside Consolidated School District recently decided to develop a way to help other students battle depression and anxiety in the wake of the trauma caused by COVID-19.

Staci Darr, Westside sixth and seventh-grade Student Council adviser and sixth-grade math and science teacher, said that the new program, “Who Cares? Warriors Care.,” uses both a QR code displayed around the school and an icon on student computers that will send students directly to a Google form that can be filled out online and sent to the counselor discreetly.

Westside Superintendent Scott Gauntt said that the QR code will take students directly to a questionnaire with the responses going to the school counselor.

“The kids want help but are afraid to ask because of the stigma of asking for help,” Gauntt said.

“It blew me away to know that our students wanted to help others so much,” he said, noting that the QR code will be placed around the school at various locations such as the cafeteria, the bathrooms and the library. “It is amazing to see.”

Darr said that during a middle school Student Council meeting last week, they decided that they wanted to focus on teen suicide and how to help prevent such a tragedy.

“As the group talked about how to get rid of the stigma of going to the counselor, they started talking about some type of form that students could fill out,” Darr said, noting that two seventh-grade council members, Kendra Moody and Lilly Barber, suggested putting QR codes around the school and icons on all the computers.

Barber said that she and Moody took it a step further.

“So Kendra and I branched-off,” Barber said, “and suggested they have a QR code to the Warrior Hotline and the Google form. We plan to have it on every computer. We already have it in QR form, and we started this week.”

Moody said that they also plan to do newsletters explaining the signs of depression and tips on ways to prevent and cope with the issue, as well as how to help a friend who is suffering.

“Luckily, we have the best adviser ever,” Moody laughed, “She got us to talking about ways to bring up Warriors’ spirits. We decided that we wanted to raise awareness and let kids know that they are not alone.”

“All the kids have worked really hard on this,” Darr said, pointing out that the project began only two weeks ago.

“We have a good group of students,” she said. “They are unstoppable when they get an idea.”