What’s a Boot Check you ask? Kimberly School District administrators and board members had the opportunity to learn more about a “Boot Check Moment” as they spent time with members of the Jae Foundation this past month. The Jae Foundation is a foundation that focuses on mental health awareness and suicide prevention. The goal of the foundation is to encourage boot check moments — situations where each individual is challenged to reach out to someone and share with them that they are loved, valued, and that they have people who are here for them no matter what they are going through. Each member of the KSD administration and board were given a pair of Jae Boots as they learned about the story of Jae Bing, who took his life in 2016.
“When you get your boots, you can put them on when you are having a bad day and know that someone cares about you and that they are there for you,” said Mrs. Nannini. “I really appreciate that about the Jae Foundation.”
Jae’s best friend, Jae Foundation Founder, Jason Vickrey made a commitment to do something to help people through Jae’s story and us thus the Foundation was formed. With each pair of Jae Boots, individuals are challenged to make one phone call, to reach out to one person and have a “Boot Check” moment.
“The whole concept of the boot check is amazing.,” said Mr. Gonzales. “You know saying, all right, stop, you got to get ahold of somebody and reaching out. Yeah, it's very powerful.”
The implications of these Boot Check moments have been significant and incredibly powerful. “We have seen suicide notes ripped up, relationships mended, and people who have just needed to hear that someone is thinking of them,” stated Jae Foundation Teen Outreach Coordinator, Paige Vickrey.
During this presentation, members of the KHS board learned the importance of starting a conversation about mental health. Due to the stigma surrounding mental health, it can be difficult to talk about this subject and ask for help when needed.
Presenters spoke of the Foundation’s core values of being “Bold” in our conversations about mental health and about being bold enough to ask for help when needed. The presenters also spoke of the importance of being “Inclusive,” understanding that everyone has a story and at times everyone may have some struggles.
“It’s very important to talk when you have problems going on,” Mr. Gonzales said. “We want to get rid of the stigma that if you are suffering from a mental health problem or are in a crisis, the most important thing is to call somebody and reach out to somebody.”
The other two core values of being “Nimble,” or ready to go without question or judgment to help someone, and “Generosity” were certainly highlighted as each member of the group received their Jae Boots.
“It was an amazing opportunity to share with the KHS board and admin team just how valued and impactful the work that they are doing is,” said Jae Foundation Executive Assistant Emily Prcic.
The Jae Foundation has been working with school districts, local businesses, athletic teams, and several community organizations to encourage mental health awareness. They have been busy with summer retreats, mini leadership trainings, community events and so much more. With over 1500 pair of Jae Boots given out, a conversation that may have never occurred is happening.
The Kimberly administration has been inspired by the Jae Foundation’s impact and strives to spread suicide awareness throughout our school. Kimberly’s Sources of Strength, a suicide prevention and mental health committee, recently completed training to be prepared and equipped with the skills to lead our school and spread suicide awareness. Sources of Strength and Kimberly High School are excited to be able to take action in suicide awareness as the year continues.