On Friday, November 18, 2016 I had the pleasure of joining the Stand Together team and students from West Mifflin Area High School for a balloon release event. It was a beautiful day and the activity was a great success!
At lunch, students could purchase a balloon for a ticket out of class for the release that afternoon. Students wrote something anonymous about mental illness, stigma, or hope on a card and it was attached to the balloon. The balloons were redistributed randomly to students and students could read one anothers’ heart-felt messages, before ‘letting go’ of their struggles and believing in hope for the future.
WMHS Stand Together President, Eliza, shared some remarks at the event:
“Today we recognize our challenges, struggles, accomplishments, and our worries. Today we let it go. All of the years that we have been challenged to live with depression. All the struggles that OCD has given you on a day to day basis. All the help that you have received and the accomplishments along the road to recovery. All the worries to the ones we love struggling with ADHD. Today we are not alone, we have support by the ones around you. The community has your back; if your balloon lands in their yard, they will learn the things we are going through. They will learn we are not crazy, that we are people. That STIGMA IS SHAME, SHAME CAUSES SILENCE, AND SILENCE HURTS AUS ALL!”
Over 100 students attended the moving event. The Stand Together team also passed out brochures on suicide prevention from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and a self-created resource guide. In addition, Principal Phillip Woods participated to show his support.
Advisor Lauren Rowe & ST Students Principal Woods ‘high-five’-s Eliza
One of the balloons was found in Ashville, PA, 85 miles away! This balloon was found by Donna Boring who found it while walking in the woods and contacted us on Facebook.
In addition, students were instructed to Insta/Tweet/Share photos and videos with the hashtag #wmstballoons. We leave you with this video courtesy of Lorin, a ST team member:
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