By Susan Tebben
Students of Austintown Fitch High School chose to provide for a charity and are now being praised as winners for the charity.
The Fitch life literature class entered a national Storytellers high school campaign for To Write Love on Her Arms, agroup that brings attention to resources that can help with treatment of, and erase the stigma attached to, mental illness.
“It was the students’ decision to pick this cause,” said Steven Ward, language arts teacher. “They wanted to bring the classroom together and take learning out of the books and into reality.”
Through selling Storyteller bracelets, the high school raised $3,353 in two months as part of a fall 2012 campaign that raised $33,000 nationally.
In all of 2012, the program raised about $100,000. Because of the students’ accomplishments, the school will host an event today, in which Chloe Grabinski, founder of the Storytellers campaign, and Aaron Moore, a licensed mental health counselor, will speak.
The Storyteller campaign and TWLOHA was brought to senior Emily Wirtz’s attention by a friend. After researching the organization, she led the fundraising for the class.
“Going through high school, you see people go through mental illness, and this was a good way to help people who are going through it,” Wirtz said.
In the program, schools are required to host community activities to meet fundraising goals and bring about discussion about mental illness. Austintown Fitch had an event called “Voices” in which students told stories about their experiences with mental illness. The event was exclusive to students.
There are definitely a lot of stigmas against mental illness, Wirtz said, which is an important reason why she wanted to bring the Storytellers campaign to Fitch.
“Even I learned a lot, and I think a lot of people’s minds were opened” by the campaign, Wirtz said.