WSSU ‘Smile Campaign’ helps students fight stress

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Tyokia Harrison strikes up conversation while her friend Ihijahmah Yorker captures the moment.

Their goal is simple, making students and staff smile.

"Just actually approaching them and saying ‘How was your day?'” Harrison said. “Smiling at them, making sure they're OK."

It's part of a movement Harrison started at Winston-Salem State University last year called "The Smile Campaign."

"I felt that, on campus, we needed some type of support system for the students" the 19-year-old said.

They take photos of students before and after they get them to smile, hoping to help students de-stress and take care of their mental health.

“I walk through this campus every day and you don't know what someone's going through," Harrison said.

The sophomore encourages students to talk about their issues and get help.

"I promote going to talk to the counselors when you're having a bad day," she said.

Yorker joined the project to help cope with his own trauma.

"Around this time last year, I had a life-changing experience,” Yorker said. “One of my closest friends lost their life to gun violence."

Harrison says after this week's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, campaigns like this are needed more than ever.

"It's important for us to remain optimistic and to smile through the trials and tribulations that we go through,” she said. “Heal and help and spread love.”

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