The #umatterchallenge program Feb 21, 2017.
Around August of 2015, two months after Charles’ suicide, I got the idea that I needed to develop a program for middle and high school students.
Of course, it didn’t come to me then. I was too overwhelmed with grief and my thoughts were too scrambled and unorganized.
By February 2016, I was frustrated that I couldn’t make it come together. I had more ideas but they didn’t fit together right.
Then I decided that I just didn’t need to worry about it. I needed to let go and trust that the idea would develop and present itself to me.
And one morning in March it did.
I couldn’t type it on my iPhone fast enough because the floodgates had opened. This was it.
This is not the typical program with lectures and posters and adults pushing phrases like like, “this is your brain on drugs.” This is a student centric approach. It allows them to take their own journey and make discoveries.
In short, it will empower students which is the best way to learn.
It is surprisingly simple.
I merely provide the framework. They’ll use the tools and the social media platform they like. They use their own creativity and step outside their own comfort zone. Because you know what? Adults are not going to erase stigma. The kids will. They want to.
They are why we are texting now. They are why we recycle. So I want them to own it, shape it, live it. The personality of the program is so like Charles–what he stood for, how he reached out.
After they have done the 21 day program, I’ll return and they will tell me what they learned. Because teens don’t like to be told what to do. Quite honestly, adults don’t either.
They’ll learn more by doing it themselves. I can’t wait to hear their experiences.
I’m finally proud of it. Thanks to teens who have helped me shape it.
How you can run this for your school
- Here is the program: #umatterchallenge
- Sign up here: umatterchallenge.com (This program is through Beacon Tree Foundation, Richmond VA)
- We are making “kits” for schools and or college clubs. A teen/young adult takes ownership of the program, orders the kit (donor money pays for the kit contents) and instructions and templates are included. We are currently developing this kit with the help of YMCA leader’s club members.
It’s about promoting connectivity and belongingness and therefore preventing suicide and raising acceptance of mental illness and differences. No lectures. Only stories.