YOU MATTER! 2021 SPEAK WEEK
by Andrea Donlucas: Student Life Editor
The second leading cause of death for those aged 15-24 is suicide, according to save.org. Every forty seconds or so, a precious life is lost. It’s not easy, but anyone can step in and save a loved one’s life.
The Brighton Youth Commission (BYC) is an organization that helps youth develop leadership skills and make a difference in their community. Twenty-two youth are able to use their voice in local government, and can work on what is affecting teens. Each spring, the BYC hosts their SPEAK Week and Walk. SPEAK stands for Suicide Prevention, Education, Awareness, and Knowledge. It is a week’s worth of mental health resources and activities that are implemented into schools that are intended to ultimately save lives. The week ends with a walk held at Carmichael Park that brings the community together to signify that we are not alone in our struggles.
As with everything else, this annual event has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. On a normal year, Carmichael Park is full of booths, each representing a strength from the Sources of Strength wheel. For example, to represent the “generosity” part of the wheel, the Brighton Youth Commission handed out pie donated by Village Inn. There would be a photo-booth and food trucks too!
Even with the conflicts that this year brought, the SPEAK event was still as great as ever. Five schools participated in the week of activities. Although fewer than usual, it’s still a decent number of schools considering the circumstances. During the week, a mental health awareness video was shared, along with a resource and coupon booklet. Schools also participated in optional activities such as a paper plate activity where students wrote positive messages about their classmates.
Almost 200 people registered for the walk, which took place on May 1st. Unlike years prior, this walk was split into several time slots between 1pm and 4pm in order to accomodate for social distancing. Despite it being over 70° that day, participants of the walk persevered. Their commitment and support of/to the event did not go unnoticed!
Over 70 volunteers arrived between 9am and 11am to help set up this big event. After discussing key parts of the day with all the volunteers (pictured below), it was straight to the walkie-talkie station, and then to work!
This event was much needed during the pandemic. Although it wasn’t the same as the traditional SPEAK event, participants and volunteers still had a great time. The BYC was able to share new resources and activities that shed some light on the importance of mental health. Person reading this:You’re not alone in your struggles. Reach out to a trusted individual or call 1-800-273-TALK. YOU MATTER!