Former student’s ‘Love Cans’ project delivers encouragement across Polk County

Students and staff of Polk County Schools recently engaged in a heartwarming initiative aimed at spreading love and positivity throughout the community.

The “Love Yourself Love Others” project, which ran from February through early March, saw enthusiastic participation from individuals eager to make a difference in the lives of others.

The brainchild behind the program is Tanisha Akinloye, a former student of Polk County Schools who has since become the Founder/CEO of Empowering Through Beauty. Reflecting on her own experiences within the school system, Akinloye expressed a desire to address the struggles she once faced with self-love and understanding how to extend kindness to others.

“Having been a former student in Polk County middle and high schools, I desired for the Love Yourself Love Others project to specifically cater to these students,” Akinloye said. “I remember struggling with self-love and understanding how to show love to others during my time in those schools. However, through my life work, I realized that love can enhance the beauty of life for everyone.”

The project centered around the creation of “Love Cans,” receptacles brimming with positive messages contributed by students and staff. These cans, adorned with uplifting notes and drawings, are slated to be dispersed throughout the county to serve as beacons of encouragement for anyone who may need a boost on challenging days.

Additionally, school counselors and social workers will receive cans filled with these heartening messages, allowing them to share rays of hope with students and staff facing difficulties. The surplus of messages, notes and drawings generated by Polk County students and staff will also be distributed to organizations such as Steps to Hope, Outreach, Meals on Wheels and Veterans Affairs, amplifying the project’s impact beyond school walls.

Support for this initiative was bolstered by grant funding from the Polk County Community Foundation. This financial assistance enabled school counselors and social workers to collaborate with community leaders such as Akinloye, facilitating the planning and execution of special activities geared toward supporting the mental well-being of students.

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