Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Send Silence Packing" Exhibit at Active Minds 8th Nat'l Conference

This past weekend, Lauren and I went attended a conference called "Empowering Advocates for Change" at the University of Maryland, hosted by Active Minds.  Started in 2001 by a UPenn student, a year after losing her older brother, also a college student, to suicide, the growth has been explosive (see story).  There are now 370 Active Minds chapters on college campuses all across North America, recognized nationally as the "voice of student mental health advocacy". Over 500 chapter members, advisors and supporters attended the event.  It was inspiring to be amongst so many young people who work tirelessly to ensure that no student is suffering in silence, that they know of available resources and understand, most importantly, that they are not alone. 

We went to this conference because we would like to use the money collected in Josh's fund to bring Active Minds speakers to local high schools, promoting the concept of Youth Mental Wellness.  We would also like to encourage our local school system to imitate Howard County Public Schools in Maryland, which has successfully implemented 5 Active Mind chapters in high schools, as part of a pilot program.

One of the many highly successful programs is Send Silence Packing.  Below are pictures from this powerful, life-changing display, right in the center of the University of Maryland's campus.  We would like to bring this display to Fairfax County.

1,100 backpacks, representing the lives lost to suicide on college campuses every year

Two girls reading Josh's story.  One was crying. 

Another young kid - I was moved because this bag was his actual backpack

Educational signs like this are all over....

These kids believe they are the voice of change.  If you are a college student and would like to be part of this voice, PLEASE join your college chapter, or start one (click here to find out more).

1 comment:

Silvergirl said...

I want to thank you for your amazingly honest, powerful blog about Josh. He became so real to me as I read--such a warm, funny, typical 17 year old boy. His description of getting caught with marijuana after returning from Taco Bell would have brought a smile of recognition to my face if I hadn't known the unbelievably severe consequences. He sounded just like so many kids--a classic example of the teenager who has developed a strong sense of responsibility and empathy with others, but whose ability to control impulses hasn't quite caught up.
I don't have a connection to the story, other than that I did plenty of "dumb" things as a teenager, and I'm a mother. Yet, I couldn't stop crying as I read your blog. What happened to Josh was so wrong! It shouldn't have been that way.
I don't think anything else could have educated me about zero tolerance, forced school transfers, and most importantly teen suicide the way your blog has. My kids are still in elementary school, but I will find out now whether our school district policies need to be changed. I also feel like your story gives me the means to recognize what might put my kids, or their friends at risk for suicide. You must be proud of how many people, and whole communities, you are helping by giving your story to us.
Thank you again.