Our high school campaign, The Storytellers, is currently accepting applications for its fourth full term, and we’re excited to see the many ways students will bring hope and help to their campuses this fall. To date, The Storytellers campaign has been in 319 schools and raised $150,000 for TWLOHA, all while starting a new conversation about mental health among teenagers. We know the issues TWLOHA addresses deeply affect high schoolers—but we also believe in this group’s powerful influence to challenge stigma and change the statistics. So we wanted to take some time to inform you about this growing program and encourage you to get involved. Recently, we invited supporters to ask us about The Storytellers on social media, and here are our answers to some of your most common questions.
What does The Storytellers campaign do when it comes to a high school?
The Storytellers is a two-month campaign that allows high schools to raise awareness, build community, and fundraise for TWLOHA. Schools participating in The Storytellers are required to host two community activities that challenge mental health stigma, which could involve anything from an open mic night to a Fears vs. Dreams event. Required fundraising includes the sale of exclusive The Storytellers bracelets. Beyond these mandatory aspects of the campaign, we encourage high schools to be creative and consider the unique presence The Storytellers could have on their campus. The TWLOHA team will communicate with organizers throughout the term and will provide schools with a manual, info book, online fundraising page, and materials box (containing info cards, bracelets, donation jars) for use during the campaign.
Here’s a blog from a former Student Organizer about how The Storytellers specifically impacted her community. You can also watch a video below to get an idea of what the campaign looks like in action.
What do I have to do to get involved?
We’re so excited you’d consider bringing The Storytellers to your student body! The first step toward participating in The Storytellers is for a student to find a faculty advisor (teacher, guidance counselor, administrator) who is willing to help bring the campaign to the school. Then the student should submit an online application, which includes a required permission form to be signed by an advisor, administrator, and/or parent/legal guardian if the applicant is under 18. Currently, we’re accepting applications until September 20 for schools that would like to participate in the Fall 2013 term. Accepted schools will be notified by email and assigned to a bracket.
Can I bring The Storytellers to a high school in [MY LOCATION]?
Yes! Sometimes supporters assume The Storytellers is a campaign TWLOHA must choose to bring to your school, but this is actually a student-initiated, student-led campaign that can take place anywhere. Whether you’re in a small town, a big city, even outside of the U.S., we consider all schools that go through the application process correctly.
Can a parent help with The Storytellers, or does it have to be a teacher?
Parents are welcome to help their child with the events of The Storytellers and express their support for the cause, but the official faculty advisor must be a teacher, guidance counselor, or other administrator. (The only exception, of course, would be if the parent is also an employee at the school.)
Here’s an account from one mother who found strength and friendship in The Storytellers after losing her daughter to suicide.
Ever thought of a middle school program?
We have considered doing a program for middle schools, but The Storytellers is still a fairly new venture for TWLOHA, and it’s a high school-specific one for now. We hope to develop something for middle schools at a later date. TWLOHA does have activities and events that students can participate in before they hit their high school years, such as our Street Team. You can learn more about the many ways to Get Involved here.
Are dual enrollment students eligible for The Storytellers?
Dual enrollment students are welcome to participate in and attend The Storytellers activities for their high school. However, we ask that official organizers be full-time high school students. In our experience with the campaign, we have learned that dual enrollment programs can be very intensive and may not allow a student sufficient time and campus presence to fully organize and represent The Storytellers. If a dual enrollment student really wants to bring the campaign to their school, we suggest they find another full-time student who would like to be the organizer, and they can still support as a participant.
Can small or private schools participate in The Storytellers?
Absolutely! We have had schools with as few as 50 students participate. If you want to bring the campaign there and have the faculty support, let’s make it happen.
Have a question that wasn’t answered here? Check out our FAQ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you attend or work at a high school, we hope you’ll consider applying for The Storytellers soon! Keep living a good story and reminding others to do the same.