Student poster contest sends message of hope
Teens recognized for suicide prevention message in MCSPTF effort
NORRISTOWN >> Suicide is
There is help. There is hope.
Those were some of the messages in the first “You Matter” poster art contest open to Montgomery County elementary, middle and high school students.
“We had about 46 submissions, all of which were fantastic and very hard to select,” Erin Hewitt, cochair of the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force, said as the three contest winners were presented at the Dec. 13 Montgomery County Commissioners meeting.
“The goal of our contest was to encourage emotional well-being by promoting the concept of communication, hope, community and friendship in an effort to prevent suicide,” said Franconia resident Patti Dille, a task force member and suicide loss survivor, “so we want to encourage our youth to talk about their feelings and reach out and get help when they are struggling. It’s important for every youth in Montgomery County.”
Task force member Ellyn Strauss introduced contest winners Hallie Ahrens, a 12th-grader at Abington Senior High School; Rowan Blankemeyer, a ninth-grader at Upper Dublin High School; and Keira Moyer, an eighth-grader at Souderton Area School District’s Indian Crest Middle School.
Ahrens’ first-place winning poster included the message that, “The stars come out when the sun sets; don’t lose hope.”
While it may appear overstated, people should realize how important hope is, Ahrens said.
“If you have hope, anything’s possible for the future,” she said.
Blankemeyer said she chose to include a hot air balloon in her second-place winning poster because, “It represents hope to me.”
The poster also included a semicolon as a symbol representing mental health awareness, she said.
“Within the belief that suicide is generally preventable, the mission of Project Semicolon is to help reduce the incidents of suicide in the world through connected community and greater access to information and resources. We believe that suicide prevention is the collective responsibility of each and every person on the planet,” according to information on the projectsemicolon.com website.
Moyer said her thirdplace winning poster, which included “Don’t doubt who you are” and “You are your own kind of beautiful” messages, was an attempt to inspire others.
Information on places to get help was included along with all three posters.
“These projects that engage all members of our community go a long way to help reducing the stigma around this particular challenge, and I can’t think of anything more important than to making sure that young adults really understand this for the medical condition that it is, how to get help and that it’s OK to talk about it and it’s OK to ask for help,” commissioners Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said.
Commissioner Ken Lawrence said they were all “wonderful posters” and thanked both the students and the task force for their efforts.
“I’m so proud that we have the ability to congratulate you on your artistic abilities and your passion to serve your fellow neighbors in the communities that you live in with such an important issue to help put a spotlight on that,” Commissioner Joe Gale told the students.
“In Montgomery County, we lose approximately 100 of our loved ones, friends, neighbors and coworkers each year to suicide. The Task Force’s purpose is to promote understanding that suicide is a preventable community health problem in our county,” Dille wrote in an email.
Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital partnered with the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force in the poster contest, she said.
Rowan Blankemeyer, the Montgomery County Commissioners and members of the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force stand with an enlarged copy of her poster in the “You Matter” poster contest.
Hallie Ahrens, the Montgomery County Commissioners and members of the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force stand with an enlarged copy of her poster in the “You Matter” poster contest.
Abington Senior High School 12th-grader Hallie Ahrens’s entry was the first-place winner in the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force and Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital’s “You Matter” poster contest.
Upper Dublin High School ninth-grader Rowan Blankemeyer’s entry was the second-place winner in the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force and Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital’s poster contest.
Keira Moyer, the Montgomery County Commissioners and members of the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force stand with an enlarged copy of Moyer’s poster in the “You Matter” poster contest.
Indian Crest Middle School eighth-grader Keira Moyer’s entry was the third-place winner in the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Task Force and Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital poster contest.