I was invited to go to Lakeville North High School, in Lakeville MN on May 22nd, 2014.
The occasion was the launching of the project Defy the Definition, created by a group of 30 students, an educational campaign that focuses on raising awareness of mental illness, specifically with students in their school. The reason why they decided to call this project “Defy the Definition” is to help address the stigma of mental health issues. Showing their school community that those affected by mental wellness issues are not defined by their diagnosis, rather that they are people who struggle with very real and difficult problems that need the support of the school community to work through it.
Emily, a student on this project, had contacted me a few weeks ago because while knocking on houses doors in her city to raise funds for the project, ran into a friend of mine who told her about Break the Stigma Project and that I could help her to contact some people to help them raise the funds needed. They only needed to raise $5,000, that’s all, in a few weeks! Funny, since I haven’t really started doing just that for my own project run next year, and I have no idea where the funds will come from!
Anyway, I liked the way Emily introduced herself in her message and it was very clear to me that this topic it is as important to her as it is to me.
So, I gave her the name of a good friend and asked her to contact him. I also went on to post their plea for help on Break the Stigma Project’s Facebook page.
A professional from Eagan, MN answered the plea by stating that she could help and she would love to get in touch with Emily.
So, I gave her Emily’s e/mail to contact her. And it seems like they were able to raise the funds.
Great job kids!
I was at their School to listen to Mr. Ken Barlow* speak about his struggles with Bipolar Disorder. It was a great gathering at the auditorium. It was full of students. Many questions were asked by the students at the end of the speech by Mr. Barlow. My good friend Tom Mork was there from Tom’s Big Ride (check out his FB and Web pages http://tomsbigride.org )
Thank you Tom for helping these young stars! Also, Megan, thank you for hooking them up with Allina.
The simple fact of seeing young people so engaged on creating a project to end the stigma of mental health makes me very happy and even more committed to my own project.
While working on my own project I have learned how hard it is to even get anyone to openly talk about mental health issues, especially older generations. So for these kids to be doing this now, it is amazing, they are our future.
Check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Defy-the-Definition/449096891902121 and please support them and let them inspire other students in your communities to follow their footsteps.
I have posted some photos of the event on this web site under the photos tab.
* Mr. Ken Barlow is a very well known meteorologist based in the Twin Cities. Google “Ken Barlow Almanac” to see one of his interviews on PBS.