2021 Rogers Scholar Matthew Buckle, a student at Leslie County High School, and school psychologist Hillary Meehan display a list of positive affirmations they created for student volunteers to share with their peers at the start of each school day.

More than 1,500 students – the entire student population in the Leslie County School District – have heard positive words of encouragement through Operation Affirmation.

“As mental illness remains prevalent among Appalachian youth, it is imperative to take action against this plaquing issue. Operation Affirmation strives to bolster positive mindsets through humanitarian action, student involvement, and kind words. Assisting others through collaborative and empathetic efforts mean a lot to me, as I strive to better my region.”

Each graduate of The Center for Rural Development’s Rogers Scholars program is required to complete a community service project. For more information about Rogers Scholars, visit www.centeryouthprograms.com.