Hashtag campaign meant to spread positivity, resources during pandemic

photo by: Jeff Burkhead

A #DGKS♥ sign is pictured outside the Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania Street.

The newly developed well-being branch of Douglas County’s pandemic response team has launched its first project: a hashtag campaign meant to help residents stay positive.

Margaret Weisbrod Morris, chief executive officer of the Lawrence Arts Center, is one of the leaders of the well-being branch. She said it was established to pay more heed to the community’s mental health, “because it’s been such a long slog, the pandemic.”

The team’s first project is an effort to spread smiles while also leading residents to wellness resources by using and spreading the hashtag #DGKS♥.

“A lot of this information that comes out about the pandemic is scary. It’s anxiety-provoking and it’s clinical,” Weisbrod Morris said. “This is an effort to inspire people in a way that’s easy to find and digest.”

The county is encouraging people to use the hashtag on social media. Though the hashtag has a heart emoji on the end, emojis are not included in the hashtag link, so searching just #DGKS will also bring up the relevant posts.

Searching #DGKS on Facebook will lead to posts about community events, reminders to get outside, and encouraging photos like a snowman holding a sign that says “I believe in you!” Weisbrod Morris said posts vary from fun information about events or how to take care of yourself to more “hardcore” resources about suicide prevention. There is also a Facebook page called DGKS Hope in which relevant posts are shared.

The county is encouraging use of the hashtag by promoting it via yard signs, bumper stickers and window clings. Heart-shaped yard signs are popping up around town that say #DGKS♥ and include a link to a behavioral health resource website hosted by the health department: ldchealth.org/hope.

“It’s kind of a visible sign of unity,” Weisbrod Morris said.

photo by: Jeff Burkhead

Tia Guesby, a certified nursing assistant for the Bert Nash Center Medical Services team, is pictured holding a #DGKS♥ sign.

The health department’s web page provides resources about fitness, mental health, trauma-informed care and more. The hashtag, Weisbrod Morris said, is a good way to promote events that “kind of pop up” as they occur.

Amy Albright, director of marketing and communication design for the Lawrence Arts Center, created the #DGKS heart design. The hearts come in green, red, blue, orange and rainbow and are meant to be instantly recognizable, Albright said.

“It seemed like a good way for us to kind of signal (to) each other in the community that we are all here … together,” Albright said. “And to bring a little color to the community in the wintertime when we don’t have flowers and things.”

Jeannette Blackmar, executive director of Baldwin City’s Lumberyard Arts Center, said the campaign to spread positivity caught her attention.

“It’s so important to spread messages of positivity and keep one another’s positivity up, so we latched on to the DGKS marketing,” she said.

Baldwin City had already been spreading positivity through the Lumberyard Arts Center’s “Light and Love” project. During the holiday season, the center left materials outside its building so community members could write messages of hope for one another or cope with their pains and hardships by writing about them. So when Blackmar heard of the county’s hope campaign, she thought, “Oh my gosh, we’re doing the same thing!”

photo by: Jeannette Blackmar

Messages of hope are posted outside Baldwin City’s Lumberyard Arts Center, 718 High Street, during its December 2020 “Light and Love” project.

Blackmar said she hopes the hashtag campaign will help encourage people to get outside and raise awareness of behavioral health resources.

Douglas County residents who want the free yard signs, bumper stickers and window clings are encouraged to pick them up at various locations:

• Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence

• Sports Pavilion Lawrence, 100 Rock Chalk Lane, Lawrence

• Community Health Facility, 200 Maine St., Lawrence

• Vinland Valley Nursery, 1606 North 600 Road, Baldwin City

• Lumberyard Arts Center, 718 High St., Baldwin City

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