13 Reasons To Fly
January 12, 2018
Two weeks before 16-year-old Isabelle would speak in front of 400 people at the National Building Bridges Initiative Conference; she was discharged from a 6-month stay in a residential treatment facility. During her stay there, Isabelle became aware of the "13 Reasons Why" Netflix series and found herself feeling upset at the perceived glorification of mental health and suicide.
She decided to fight back against the stigma by creating "13 Reasons to Fly," a registered non-profit organization! Her mission is to empower youth to find hope, not only within themselves but to inspire their peers to do so. She identified 13 reasons to keep living and built her organization upon them.
Isabelle then went on to present her story and 13 Reasons to Fly in front of the National Building Bridges Conference.
We invited Isabelle to speak to our kids on campus on Sunday, January 6. They got to decorate kites with their "reasons to fly" or things that inspired them. The younger kids were divided into two teams (red and purple) and given balloons. Their first goal was to keep their balloon and their teammate's balloon in the air while knocking down the other team's balloons. They found this difficult and struggled to focus on whether or not to help the balloons stay up or knock them down. Part two was for everyone to keep all the balloons up and work together to help each other. As you can guess, balloons were in the air and kids were having fun! The activity showed the importance of supporting each other, rather than tearing each other down.
The kids also participated in an activity about breaking down stigma and labels, and another that allowed kids to share things about themselves that others may not have known.
On Monday, Isabelle also was able to do some of these activities in the school with some of the kids that missed the opportunity on Sunday.
"I am so proud of the three youth who hosted her and all the kids who participated. Thank you to all the staff who assisted the youth in hosting Belle and encouraging kids to participate!"
As an agency, our youth panel decided that they would like to bring this mission to HGS. The youth panel will continue to work with Isabelle on developing this program and making this mission part of their journey.