Clubs Across Andover Collaborate for Love Better Week 2024

Hosted by the Brace Student Advisory Board and YES+, Love Better Week is a compilation of events that happen from February 11 to February 15. Celebrating the arrival of Valentine’s Day, the week is an opportunity for Andover to come together and raise awareness about the power of healthy relationships and self-love.

In addition to Brace and YES+, multiple other clubs, including Self Care Bears and Active Minds, have collaborated to organize the events for this week. For example, Active Minds hosted “Embrace the Calm” on Wednesday. Carolina Tieppo ’24, Co-Head of Active Minds, discussed the club’s involvement with the project, especially highlighting her role as an ambassador to Love Better Week.

“Active Minds was the last group to become a part of Love Better Week. I basically talked to Prince [LaPaz ’24] last week and he had this idea for an ‘Embrace the Calm’ event, and since Active Minds is known for talking about mental health and de-stressing, he invited us to be ambassadors for this event, and to have the Active Minds board be there and talk a little about mental health, help [with] distributing coloring books and such,” said Tieppo.

“Love is in the Care Packaging,” an event hosted on Sunday by the Brace Center for Gender Studies and YES+, helped create care packages, including things like menstrual supplies, to donate to people in the Greater Lawrence Area. Mia Isacson ’26, an attendee, commented on the turnout and how the event upheld her values.

“I feel like I’m someone who’s super concerned when it comes to periods and pads, and I feel like that’s a big topic in my life. So, I’m pretty happy to be able to do something, even if it was just something so small, but I also like the community and thought I got to have good discussions with some classmates and teachers I hadn’t spoken to before to connect,” said Isacson.

Another event attendee, Zadie Robinson ’26, discussed the “Love is in the Care Packaging” event further. Robinson spoke on the various necessities that were distributed through the program — such as tampons, pads, toothbrushes, and toothpaste — and touched on the overall environment at the event.

“There was a really friendly atmosphere and everyone was very welcoming. Even though I showed up about an hour late, there were still things I could do to help which I think was very shocking. There was always something to do to help people in need,” said Robinson.

Lily Williamson ’25, a board member of YES+ and Self Care Bears, spoke on the events planned by her club in conjunction with other on-campus organizations. Williamson, who helped coordinate this past Tuesday’s “Brownies, Barriers, and Berries” event, a spin-off of “Cupcakes and Condoms,” noted the high participation in the event and the interconnection between a range of on-campus clubs.

“We really had a strong emphasis during this particular event about boundaries and so we obviously handed out contraception and condoms and lubrication, but we also had a lot of discussion about boundaries and things like that. One of the biggest highlights was talking about what it means to be in a relationship and sort of setting those boundaries and knowing what you’re comfortable with and being able to communicate that to other people. It was a really successful event. The turnout was great, it ran from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.,” said Lily Williamson.

Lily Williamson also reflected on the work she had done for Love Better Week so far and noted that, while this was the first instance of this sort of collaboration for many clubs, she hopes that this “tradition” running alongside Valentine’s Day can continue in the future.

“It’s been super cool to sort of see how many people sort of get a takeaway from our meeting, but I think especially since this is our first time doing this collab, and so I’m having the opportunity to figure out how body positivity and self-love can intersect with things like healthy relationships and Valentine’s Day and the whole concept of love better week. It’s just a super fun educational experience for us all,” said Lily Williamson.

Similarly, Micheal Williamson ’26, another board member of YES+, expressed his appreciation for the collaboration that many clubs had to bring together the Love Better Week programming. Micheal Williamson highlighted both the “Brownies, Boundaries, and Berries” event, as well as planned events with the Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA), and other events that continued to take place throughout the week.

“We’re collaborating with a lot of clubs and student-led organizations on campus. I know that we started off the week with a collaboration with Brace, and I know we [had] a collab[oration] with Self Care Bears on Thursday, which is a club I’m also a part of. As well as that, we’re also collaborating with GSA… for another informational type event,” said Micheal Williamson.