PROSPECT — Woodland Regional High School seniors Angie Wirsing and Amanda Santoro want you to know that your story is far from being over.
Wirsing and Santoro brought the Storytellers campaign to Woodland for their senior project.
“The Storytellers is a high school campaign made by To Write Love On Her Arms, and the purpose is to bring the message and movement of TWLOHA to high schools as well as the community,” Wirsing explained in an e-mail.
According to the movement’s website, To Write Love On Her Arms is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. The movement exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
Wirsing explained that students host the Storytellers campaign in their school, selling bracelets to raise money for TWLOHA, and helping raise awareness of the issues.
“The Storytellers is a way to get people talking about a subject that is difficult to talk about and often avoided. It invites people to a conversation,” Wirsing said.
Wirsing and Santoro both knew, going into their senior year, they wanted their senior project to be something that would benefit TWLOHA.
When they looked into it how they could help, they found that the organization was working on the first-ever Storytellers campaign. They applied to have WRHS be part of the campaign and were accepted.
Part of what drew them to this campaign was how universal the message was.
“The message is not limited to just a few students that can relate to it. It is for everybody which is why it is important to get the word out. A student may not be dealing with depression or what have you, but they might know someone that is,” Wirsing said.
Although it has a broad reach, the message is a very personal one for Wirsing.
“This project is important to me because, when I lost my uncle to suicide in late December of 2009, I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through dealing with something like that. No one should feel hopeless to the point of not wanting to live,” Wirsing said.
Wirsing is trying to spread the message that depression touches the lives of a variety of people, not just those living with it.
“I want other students to get involved in letting people know that they are important rather than putting them down and bullying them. They don’t know what other people are going through and they don’t know them just because they walk the same halls together,” Wirsing said.
Besides spreading the message, Wirsing and Santoro are also fundraising for the Storytellers campaign. Through bracelet sales and online contributions, they have raised over $1,500 so far, Wirsing said.
TWLOHA is holding a competition to see which school can raise the most money.
Thanks to the efforts of Wirsing and Santoro Woodland is currently in the running to win the competition. If Woodland comes out on top, the school will win an event at the high school, put on by TWLOHA where a member of the organization will come and speak to the students.
Also, one of the musical bands that supports TWLOHA will come to the school and perform.
“The concert will be fun for the students and they will be able to learn more about TWLOHA and how to help,” Wirsing said.
Wirsing and Santoro held a competition among the seniors to see who could raise the most money for the cause. The seniors managed to raise $200 during that competition.
“They really want the concert, and they greatly support TWLOHA,” Wirsing said.
However, after the competition has come to an end, Wirsing knows that it is about much more than whether or not they win the concert.
“I hope people won’t be so quick to judge others because they simply do not know their story and can’t possibly know it unless they talk to them. I hope sufferers of depression and hopelessness will see that their life is important and I hope that they get help and live on to tell their story to inspire others to accomplish what they have,” Wirsing said.
To donate through Woodland to the Storytellers campaign, visit www.wrhs.stayclassy.org.
For more information on To Write Love On Her Arms, visit twloha.com.