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Mental Health Awareness Walk: Who Do You Walk For?

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On Friday March 27th, Serrano students, friends and family met at the track to participate in the Mental Health Awareness walk to help contribute to suicide prevention.

Angela Van Sant (12) organized and led the walk as part of her Senior project. Van Sant shares she has experienced people she loves inflicting self harm and struggling with suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, those people have been brave enough to seek help, so she was inspired to organize the Mental Health Awareness Walk to raise funds, support, and awareness for mental health.

photo 1

PC: Angela Van Sant

 

It took a lot of time and hard work to plan and organize this event. “We had to make fliers, posters and write donation letters to some businesses to try to get door prizes.” All of this lead up to an exceptional Walk with a lot of supporters out on the track.

Thanks to everyone’s generosity, a total of $306 was raised to be donated to TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) which is a “non- profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.”

photo 2

PC: Angela Van Sant

 

Angela says that she was “happy with how much we made because Mrs. Walczynski, Peer Leaders Advisor, is combining the money with the funds that other groups,” like Peer Leaders and SASS, “have raised to donate to TWLOHA.”  Now, over $1000 has been raised, and there is still hopefully more to be come from the annual Spring Benefit Concert which will be held on April 10th in the school Cafeteria at 5 pm. This is another awesome opportunity for you to come on out and show your support!

The most rewarding aspect of this event for Van Sant was “finding out how much we made for TWLOHA and seeing how many people cared about the organization.

Van Sant shares that her greatest supporters in organizing this event were her friends and  Mrs. Walczynski. Walczynski is not only the Peer Leaders advisor but also a Psychology and Sociology teacher. Walczynski shares that she was inspired to participate in raising Suicide Awareness because she has “lost family members and students to suicide.” She explains when “we first brainstormed what kind of ‘walk’ we could do when this started four years ago, I naturally wanted to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention,” so she was more than willing to contribute to this event.

photo 3

PC: Angela Van Sant

 

Mrs. Walczynski warmly shares, “I love seeing staff, students and their families coming out to show their support for one of our most fragile populations.  Like myself, many who walk have lost someone to suicide or have experienced difficulties in their own lives, so it is a very meaningful event for them.”

Sometimes mental health and suicide are difficult topics to address. Walczynski says, “I think it is so important to draw attention to what I see as one of the biggest challenges that our students and their families face, mental health problems.  For too long the stigmas and stereotypes have kept our society from seeking the help that they need or from helping those in need, and it’s time for that to end.”

Personally, my grandfather had Alzheimer’s which is a degenerative disease of the brain. Many people think that if someone has Alzheimer’s that they are just forgetful. When people learned my Grandpa had Alzheimer’s disease, they tended to ask me, “Oh, does he remember who you are?” The answer was yes. I believe he knew who I was and who everyone in his family was right up until he took his last breath. But what people didn’t realize is that as his disease progressed, he was severely depressed. He was aggressive and suffered from paranoia and suicidal thoughts. He simply didn’t want to live the way he was living. Now, at this point, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and I personally think there is a lack of understanding, awareness, and support for treating and caring for Alzheimer’s patients. It is a mental illness with crippling effects on the mind, soul and body. So I walked in honor of my Grandpa. I’m thankful that Angela, Mrs. Walczynski and so many others made such a huge effort to make a difference for a group of people that may often be overlooked.

 That being said, don’t be afraid to step out of your shell and contribute your time, money, prayers and support to help improve the quality of life for those who may be experiencing a tough time in life right now. Also, if you feel like you or someone you know is struggling right now and you’d appreciate some support, don’t hesitate to seek assistance whether it is talking to someone you trust like a teacher, parent, friend or checking out organizations like TWLOHA. Your life matters. His life matters. Her like matters. My life matter. Their lives matter. Don’t miss an opportunity to remind the people around you that they are loved and that their lives matter.

 

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Mental Health Awareness Walk: Who Do You Walk For?