A photo of a high school hallway

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Center for Leadership Education

Students create tool to help counselors predict incidents of targeted violence in high schools

The resource is designed to increase the understanding of students' well-being and allow counselors to make more informed decisions on outreach and resource allocation

According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, 2022 saw an unprecedented number of school shootings in the U.S., with more than 300 incidents of gun violence. As of April 20, 2023, more than 110 incidents have been reported—almost as high as the total number of school shootings that occurred in 2020.

Given this dramatic rise in targeted violence, students in the Whiting School of Engineering's Center for Leadership Education's Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communication class created My Vibe Check, an emotional wellness tool. This resource is designed to assist high school counselors in better understanding the well-being of their students and identifying potential triggers of violence.

My Vibe Check provides a secure questionnaire that asks students to report their daily feelings. Counselors then receive easily digestible graphics that consolidate and present their students' responses, allowing them to identify trends and make more informed decisions on their outreach and resource allocation.

Senior international studies major Castalia Vidaurri, who is helping to lead the project, says that Hopkins alumni played an important part in helping to improve the tool.

"We had four counselors, JHU School of Education alums, give us feedback on the tool. All of them said the website is easy for counselors to navigate and that the resources are relevant to their students. From their written comments, we added more resources for both students and counselors and added an FAQ on our page," she says.

So far, My Vibe Check is being used by counselors in three private schools in Severn, Maryland; Buffalo, New York; and San Jose, California, with more than 75 students currently using the tool.

"The project raises awareness about the complicated nature of tragedies such as school shootings and that we all [can] take a moment to ponder how we can extend a hand to someone who could use a pick-me-up."
Castalia Vidaurri
Student and co-CEO of Homewood Strategies

In addition to the wellness tool, the student team has developed a marketing agency called Homewood Strategies to help spread awareness of the tool. The team is using blog posts and a social media campaign to promote My Vibe Check and familiarize counselors with how it might assist them in understanding the emotional wellness of their students. The team also hosted three online demonstration events for counselors, with a fourth event on the Homewood campus Tuesday, April 19, focusing on encouraging Hopkins' undergraduates to support the effort by emailing their high school counselors.

Vidaurri, who serves as co-CEO of Homewood Strategies, is hopeful that her team's project "raises awareness about the complicated nature of tragedies such as school shootings and that we all [can] take a moment to ponder how we can extend a hand to someone who could use a pick-me-up."

The team of students created My Vibe Check through participation in EdVenture Partners' Invent2Prevent program. Invent2Prevent has been adopted by the Department of Homeland Security's Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships to prevent targeted violence and terrorism while building social awareness, responsibility, and connectivity.

According to Leslie Kendrick, senior lecturer in the Center for Leadership Education and the instructor for the course, the Invent2Prevent program "provides our students with the opportunity to develop and implement both a tool and an integrated campaign in an effort to mitigate this issue and bolster protective factors. Through this client-based project experience, students gain leadership experience running in-class agency departments while building their resumes."

Team member Shaina Marie-Zeinab Gabala, a senior majoring in computer science, believes that Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communication allowed her to merge her two interests: engineering and marketing.

"Engineering and marketing are often more alike than we think in terms of problem-solving. I'm able to be both creative and technical, and grow my portfolio of projects while learning to take on different perspectives in the design process," Gabala says.

At the end of the semester, the team will present data on the effectiveness of their media campaign to judges for the Invent2Prevent program. The top three finalists will be invited to present their project in Washington.