Town Talk Features

Student Standouts: 3.11.20

abbie mueller of whitfield school
Abbie Mueller knows the value of giving back. The Whitfield junior started her first service organization, Abbie’s Helping Hands, in 2014 and has continued to expand her outreach. This year, she won the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her positive self-image mentoring program, Self-ValYOU. The award recognizes middle and high schoolers from each state who have performed outstanding service for others.

Why is positive self-image a cause that speaks to you?
Negative self-image is a health risk. It can lead to depression, eating disorders and lower performance in school. In middle school, one of my friends called herself fat in the locker room. Another friend quickly told her she was beautiful, but the situation really hit home for me. I’ve struggled with my own weight, and I realized I couldn’t just attain validation from other people. I first needed to feel good about myself.

How did you develop Self-ValYOU?
I was working on switching my own negative outlook to positive thinking. My mom and I sat down and brainstormed how to help others do the same. We came up with the idea of using road signs because everyone recognizes them. The Y-shaped fork in the road represents questioning ‘why’ you feel a certain way. The O is for an off-ramp to stop negative thinking, and the U-turn is about reframing those thoughts into something positive. We chose the Self-ValYOU name because it’s easy to remember, and it took off from there.

What has been the highlight of working on the program?
The personal connections I’ve made. After one presentation, a girl came up and told me she had been dealing with bullies, but my program helped her feel more confident. It’s very rewarding to know I’m positively impacting people’s lives.

How would you like to see it grow in the future?
I would like it to have a national reach. This is an issue that is only going to grow because of social media. On a personal level, I’m very involved with Girls on the Run. I completed the program, and now, I’m a practice partner coach. I would love to do more mentoring and develop an educational unit on positive self-image.

How did you feel when you were awarded The Prudential Spirit of Community Award?
I wouldn’t have been selected without the support of my school. My principal, Mrs. Greathouse, wrote a letter of recommendation. Just being nominated was a big deal, and I was stunned to learn I had been selected as the high school recipient for Missouri. I’m beyond honored to be representing the amazing, active group of leaders in our community.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m a theater kid at heart. I want to study it in college and pursue it as my career. Right now, I’m in two shows, my school’s production of Footloose and The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Stages St. Louis. I also participate in scholarship and leadership pageants. I’m the current Miss Gateway St. Louis Outstanding Teen.

As part of its sponsorship, Sport Court has made a donation to Marygrove on behalf of Abbie.