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Walter Panas Warr;ors: Fighting Stigma Against Mental Illness

Our guest blogger this week is Melissa Smith, MS Ed, Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer, High School Counselor, Advisor of the Warr;ors, Founder of ADHD A New Vision Camp and most importantly proud mother of an 11 year old amazing son who happens to have an ADHD diagnosis.

walter panas warr;or

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can scar you for life.  A newly formed club high school club at Walter Panas High School called The Warr;ors, is fighting the stigma against mental illness.

The idea to start the club came from an amazing student of mine last year.  She had experienced mental health struggles of her own and wanted to reach out to those she knew struggled with that stigma daily.  We had a lot of leg work to do and we took our time researching if there were any clubs like ours in the region or even the country.  There are movements at colleges around the country but very little mental health advocacy is done at a high school level and nearly none were available in middle schools.

The students decided on the name the Warr;ors; a person that stands up for what they believe in and rights’ ignorance.  We thought using the semi colon to support the “Semi Colon” project was so symbolic: www.projectsemicolon.org.

The Warr;ors Mission Statement:

  • To inspire, lead and educate others about mental health and wellness
  • Combat stereotypes through school-based trainings and education
  • Act as a link to resources for the Lakeland Community

All Warr;ors 16 and older have participated in the Youth Mental Health First Aid training and inspired me to get certified as a trainer in Youth Mental Health First Aid. My students have already touched so many lives and saved two that I am aware of.

We have had two all school assemblies, presented at PTA and SEPTA meetings, pushed into health classes and AP Psychology.

If you would like to see us present, “We All Have Mental Health,” we will be at Lakeland High School on May 17th at 7:30. Email Msmith@lakelandschools.org for more information.

 

Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


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