Week 2: West Mifflin HS & MS

Week 2: West Mifflin HS & MS

I continue to be impressed by this great group of teens from West Mifflin! Not only are they on years 4 & 2, respectively, in the program, but they never stop learning and growing. They’ve already made such an impact in their schools and I can’t wait to see their projects in the Spring!

Both schools reviewed our purpose statement and goals:

  1. 1) Decrease negative attitudes and beliefs among adolescents toward peers and adults with mental illness and/or substance use disorders
  2. 2) Decrease social distance between adolescents and their peers who have a mental illness and/or substance use disorders
  3. 3) Encourage adolescents to speak with an adult when they become concerned about themselves or a peer who is depressed, suicidal, or exhibiting other signs/symptoms of a mental illness and/or substance use disorder

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WMHS students celebrated Spirit Week by dressing up in a Disney theme, but that didn’t stop them from working hard to brain-storm their own projects and how to improve their infamous Glow Dance. Groups also explored the concept of acceptance (masks), peer inclusion, visual representation, and ‘safe havens.’

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WMMS is certainly wise beyond their years! This group had so many great ideas that it was hard to sort through them all! They even came up with some of the same ideas as the HS and maybe they can work together on a project this year. The movie Inside Out was brought up repeatedly and I can see this being a very successful peer education campaign!

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These students aren’t afraid to SPEAK UP & SPEAK OUT! against stigma! And check out these awesome Stand Together shirts!

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Join us next week when we start our rally for change at Arsenal MS (PPS) and Environmental Charter! Stay tuned!

 

 

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Meet Our Staff: Alyssa, Project Assistant

Meet Our Staff: Alyssa, Project Assistant

Hi, everyone! My name is Alyssa, and I’m one of the assistants for Stand Together. You can find me facilitating activities with Danyelle, sharing my story about living with mental illness, and answering all your questions (even the hard ones)! I’m really excited to be a part of this team.

As someone who has lived with mental illness since early childhood, it’s one of my life goals to learn as much as I can about mental health. I completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology before earning a Master of Public Administration in Policy Research and Analysis from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), both within the University of Pittsburgh. Earning my degrees was difficult while learning to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Borderline Personality Disorder, especially while battling against stigma within my own life. Because of that experience, I do as much as I can to help fight stigma using the power of research and education. Currently, I am an In Our Own Voice Presenter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I also run my own project on mental illness: Inside Our Minds, an anonymous storytelling project working to share the experiences of people affected by mental illness in Pittsburgh.

Aside from all of that, I love to listen to political podcasts, learn how to cook new recipes, and spend as much time outdoors as possible. My most recent accomplishment: I climbed to Everest Base Camp in April (over 17,500 feet)!

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Week 1: West Mifflin HS & MS

Week 1: West Mifflin HS & MS

We had an absolutely AMAZING first week in the West Mifflin school district! Ms. Rowe’s & Ms. Roman’s groups learned so much, shared openly, and starting thinking about some amazing project ideas. Thanks for being our ‘guinea pigs’ and helping us work out the basic kinks!

20160920_102335 75 (!) high schoolers joined us on Tuesday and they were loud and proud against stigma! We enjoyed many activities, including defining key terms, matching definitions, and Kahoot!-ing some myths away!

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Everyone had a great time and no one left alone!

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Thursday, Ms. Roman’s group experienced some frustration during our puzzle exercise 20160922_092722 but quickly gained momentum as a group during the matching and myths activities as well!

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By the end of the day, the students had bonded and were excited to begin thinking about their projects for this year!

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Revisit our blog next week to see some of the project planning process as our groups learn and grow TOGETHER!

 

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Meet Our Staff: Montaja, Project Assistant

Meet Our Staff: Montaja, Project Assistant

Hi-ya! Montaja here! I am the one of the assistants for the Stand Together Project. I am the sidekick to Danyelle and you will see me helping with activities and answering questions Danyelle may not have a chance to get to throughout the course of the training.

I graduated from Youngstown State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Musical Theater. Just recently, I took part in Certified Peer support training. This training is for people who have ‘lived experience.’ This means I have a diagnosed mental Illness (in my case, Major Depressive Disorder).My therapist suggested the training. I already had experience being a peer mentor in college acting as a bridged for incoming freshmen to find the resources they need to survive their first year of college life. Why not be a peer support specialist- aiding in the recovery of everyday people living with mental illness? The training process helped me accept my diagnosis. Bringing joy and helping others have also help me on my own recovery journey. I am also skilled in recovery and (WRAP) Wellness Recovery Action Plans. WRAP is a system to take better care of yourself and give the proper direction to family and friends to aid you when situations feel out of control.

I enjoy all things artistic and creative; I am an active social media users and love a good article, blog or vlog. I run a Facebook group for artist of all kinds. I also write reviews for live theater shows around the city, all while building my career as a performer.

Recovery is a lifelong journey; discover yourself- your true self will lead you to wellness.

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What's new for 2016-2017?!

What's new for 2016-2017?!

We’re so excited to be starting our 4th year with the Stand Together project! All seven (7) of our schools from last year are returning, as well as ECS from years 1 & 2. Welcome to the team, Carlynton & Fox Chapel! We look forward to another great year as we Stand Together against stigma.

Since it’s been a few years since the program was created, we’ve been working hard to revamp the workshops, utilizing new activities and videos and incorporating an extensive social media campaign. In addition, the entire ST staff has ‘lived experience,’ which means they themselves have mental illness/history of substance use disorder. This ‘first person’ perspective is crucial for participants to understand the importance of anti-stigma programs and breaking down barriers to services people so desperately need.

Feel free to explore the changes to our website and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. Contact us with any questions or if you want to be involved. Hope to hear from you soon!

 

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