In 2015, I had the idea for the Peyton Heart Project. I wanted to create a movement that focused on kindness and that would have the potential to spread around the world. I wanted it to be a project that would raise global awareness about suicide, bullying, and mental health issues.
I named The Peyton Heart Project after Peyton James, a 13-year-old boy from Texas who, in October of 2014, died by suicide. Peyton had been relentlessly bullied by other students at school for a number of years. I had read about Peyton’s story and I wanted to help tell his story through my heart project.
I reached out to his parents and requested their permission to name my project in honor of Peyton. They agreed and now Peyton’s father, David James, helps me run the Facebook page. David is also helping me set up The Peyton Heart Project as an official organization. We hope to become a 501(c)3 in the very near future.
Many of us know what the negative effects of bullying are on those who are bullied and how difficult it can be to believe that life will ever get better. Far too often bullying leads to depression, self-harm, and sometimes even suicide. I myself was bullied throughout my childhood until the end of junior high because of a physical disability. It is because of those horrific experiences that I want to help others find hope in their darkest hour.
Many people have been impacted by suicide and by mental health issues either through their friends or through their family members. Many people have been able to identify with what the Peyton Heart Project is doing and that is what is making this project resonate with people in over 50 countries around the world. In fact, several people have messaged us and told us that they happened to find a heart on a day when they were contemplating suicide. They said that they saw the heart as a sign that they needed to live another day and they thanked us for giving them hope. Hearing that kind of story from those who have found our hearts inspires me to continue trying to reach people with our hearts.
The Peyton Heart Project has hundreds of volunteers around the world making crocheted, knitted, and other kinds of hand-made hearts. We attach tags with inspiring quotes from our website to each heart and the hearts are then left in public places for people to find. The hope is that the hearts cause people to stop for a moment and reflect on a life lost to suicide, on bullying, and on the fact that everyone’s life matters. We also hope to leave people with a feeling that there is good out there in the world.
I hope the Peyton Heart Project inspires others to join us in our mission of kindness because the world could always benefit from a little more love.
If you would like to help us spread hearts in your community, please go to our website at www.thepeytonheartproject.org and learn how you can become involved. You can also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.
The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.