My name is Denny and I am the TWLOHA UChapter Coordinator. I have been a TWLOHA staff member for 1 1/2 years. Last fall, the idea was created to develop TWLOHA student-lead organizations on university campuses, beginning in the United States. This fall, the idea is being realized when 14 colleges will be representing TWLOHA as the first ever TWLOHA UChapters.
All of this is very exciting for our team. We believe TWLOHA UChapters is part of the future in causing real, tangible change in community settings at a local and global level. Not one movement has occurred in the U.S. without college students being at the forefront, protesting change and interacting with culture in a new way, forcing even the government to listen. If stigmas, which represent a form of contemporary slavery, are going to be overthrown and replaced by a new regime of honesty and openness on university campuses (and beyond), there must be a voice from within the university body. The voice must be provocative and creative, growing from within the lives of students who care.
To be honest, we don’t know where this will go and we don’t know exactly what change to expect or how this change will look. We do know there are students who have gifts and desires that MUST be used as leverage against a society that struggles to find places of honesty and understanding. So in many ways, UChapters is TWLOHA’s response to the response of students. Essentially, UChapters are groups on college campuses who embody the values which underlie TWLOHA’s vision and mission. They will reflect TWLOHA, therein imaging the heart of TWLOHA. Each UChapter will serve on their college campus and within their local community. Through building community, we believe UChapters can organize gatherings, cultivate awareness, and create a network that actively raises funds and reaches people with a message of hope and help.
Personally, I have tasted this hope and help that can only be found in community. I know what it feels like to move from death to life and then to use the brokenness as a source of redemption for others. Universities are filled with brokenness and stories of hope that must be reconciled. It is estimated that more than 1,000 U.S. college students die by suicide each year. Death by suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. 1 in 12 have created a suicide plan. 90% had a psychiatric disorder at the time of death; 60% of those having severe depression. 10% of college students have been diagnosed with depression disorder, the majority of which never receive treatment. Yet in the face of these despairing figures, since 1994, suicide rates among 15-24 year olds has decreased 28.5%. We believe TWLOHA UChapters will be a means to even more change.
With 15 UChapters already launching this fall, we hope to launch another 15 for the spring. If you are a college student, or are about to be one, and desire to either connect with an established UChapter on your campus or help start one, you can email [email protected] and we will send you further information. Below is the list of active UChapters for this fall:
1. Columbia College, Chicago
2. University of South Alabama
3. Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania
4. University of Northern Iowa
5. Ithaca College, New York
6. South East Missouri State University
7. Texas Tech University
8. Oklahoma State University
9. University of Texas-Austin
10. Manchester College, Indiana
11. UMASS-Lowell, Massachusetts
12. University of Florida
13. Miami University, Ohio
14. Virginia Commonwealth University