Freshman stirs up mental health cause with Lemont community
LEMONT — Annie Ernst is making mental health the mission of her young life.
The Lemont High School freshman is calling on Lemont residents to band together for a fundraiser at the Front Street Cantina, 319 Front St., on Sunday to raise money for To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.
An extension of the TWLOHA movement is "The Storytellers High School Campaign", a campaign designed for high school students to raise money and compete with other area schools to host a TWLOHA event that would include a speaker on mental health.
Annie hopes to bring the event to Lemont High School.
To make her dream a reality, she has been raising money through private donations and fundraisers at school. The fundraising competition runs from February through March.
Lemont High School Counselor Denise Dalton has been helping Annie organize various fundraisers, including one in which Annie sold TWLOHA bracelets for $1 and had seniors artistically write "Love" on students' arms for 50 cents.
"As a counselor, I don't think we can do enough to remind kids that they are loved, they are special and most of all, the pain that can come with adolescence is temporary," Dalton said. "The feelings can be overwhelming, but seeking help from those who love you is a great first step."
So far, Annie said she has raised about $400 for her cause. To fulfill her goal of winning the TWLOHA event by finishing as the top fundraising school in a bracket, she said she will need to raise in upward of $5,000.
If she doesn't make it, Annie said she will keep trying every year in an effort to bring attention to an issue that struck her family.
"I hope this sticks in people's minds and they really get something out of it," she said of her efforts. "... Many people can struggle with (mental health issues) silently. I think some people can be struggling with it and not know what it is. People can identify what they are feeling if they know more about it."
'To Write Love on Her Arms' fundraiser
When: 5 p.m. Sunday
If you have any technical difficulties, either with your username and password or with the payment options, please contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org