The efforts of a few Woodgrove High School students to provide support to classmates struggling with mental illness has multiplied, and they’re asking the community at large to join the movement.
Last year, the student-led We’re All Human club teamed up with the Ryan Bartel Foundation to put on the inaugural We’re All Human walk and assembly with the goal of assuring Woodgrove’s 1,500 students that they are not alone in their struggles.
That message of hope and strength is now being spread among the student bodies at several schools throughout Loudoun County. Five high schools have since launched We’re All Human clubs that meet throughout the academic year, and three high schools will host We’re All Human suicide prevention walks Wednesday, April 19.
Heritage High School in Leesburg and Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville will hold walks and assemblies for their students and faculty that day. Woodgrove’s walk and assembly, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, will not only be open for the school’s students and faculty but also the public.
Suzie Bartel, who founded the Ryan Bartel Foundation after her son, a Woodgrove student, took his own life in 2014, said there’s a need for emotional support in every young person’s life. The now-annual We’re All Human walk and assembly is one tool to provide that support.
“Students are craving an outlet where they can both learn how to help themselves or their friends who may be experiencing depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts,” she said. “They always share how relieved they are to find they are not alone in their thoughts or experiences.”
Her goal is to see a club like We’re All Human at every Loudoun County high school. The clubs meet regularly to promote awareness and support for those dealing with anxiety, depression and suicidal behaviors. Using strength-based training, students are empowered to create their own activities and positive messaging campaigns that engage the rest of the student body.
Bartel has put a call out for donors who can give as little as $15 help deliver the program to every Loudoun high schooler. Learn more and donate at ryanbartelfoundation.org. Also, follow the link to learn more about the We’re All Human walk and assembly.