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Chapin students want help raising awareness of mental health

Light the way

Katelynn Rodriguez

(CHAPIN HIGH SCHOOL -- Sept. 24, 2020) — Junior Katelynn Rodriguez hopes to illuminate hearts across the community this October in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month in dedication to her late cousin who, like many who suffer from mental health illnesses, did so in silence. 

Rodriguez recruited two peers to develop the “Illuminate Your Heart” website project offering mental health resources. She knows it could help others – especially in the time of the pandemic when the negative effects of isolation, anxiety and depression seem to be growing. 

“My mission is to spread both mental health awareness and to show those facing these emotions that there are people who care about them and that there is hope,” Rodriguez said.  “Learning about how common this illness is becoming in this world and how much people within my own age group are suffering, I want to be able to do something on my part that will make a difference no matter how big or small that impact may be.”

Chapin students Valerie Basurto and Kayla Morales are the two students working with Rodriguez  on the project during October, Mental Health Awareness Month. They are asking families to shine a greenlight bulb – the color of Mental Health Awareness Month – in the front of their homes to show their support from Oct. 4-10 from dusk to 10 p.m. 

“I wanted to get involved in this project because I know that people are always struggling mentally,” Valerie Basurto said. “When Kate told me about her cousin, I felt like it was an opportunity to help others in and out of my community. I hope that it gives people a chance to realize how important they are, and we want them to know that there is always someone to talk to.”

The students will be giving out green lightbulbs in exchange for a donation at Chapin from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 3 until supplies last for those interested in participating. They also are encouraging participants to share with them a picture with a message support for their website. 

Rodriguez initiated the project not long after the death of her cousin, a tender and caring 21-year-old described as “the perfect mixture of hip hop and love songs.” She knew she had to do something to create awareness, share resources and help others.

“Most of the time we don’t find something important until it impacts us or those we care about,” Rodriguez said. “This isn’t something you want to wait for in order for it to be important to you. Before Aug. 21, I knew that there were many individuals who were suffering from mental illness and it saddened me to think that someone could feel so hopeless and alone. Knowing this information isn’t enough, but coming together as a community and doing something about it is where change will happen. Where those individuals will see that there is help, hope, and people who care about them.”

Story by Reneé de Santos