Emotion. Sadness. Happiness. Anger. Fear. They are not good, not bad. It’s all about what you do with them and if you bottle them up, they become bad. I rage, you smile, he sobs, she cowers. Good. I bottle, you reserve, he fakes a smile, she stands, only to get crushed. Emotion is not bad.
Yet we are taught that they are bad and should keep it in. This will only destroy us from the inside out. Till one day we will let it out and hurt ourselves or others.
We are filled with these overwhelming feelings and when there is nothing to do with them, they turn into power, anger, fear. Power that corrupts our minds until there is nothing left but an anxious, scared teenager standing in our place. Fear that turn us against ourselves, and gives us feelings or thoughts of self mutilation and violence.
You tell us not to lie. Then you make us lie over and over. If you want to hear the truth, then listen. But, I warn you, The truth isn’t always what you think. Or what you want to hear.
We are supposed to know what these emotions will do to us and stop them before they appear. They don’t want us to pay attention to how we feel and learn from our mistakes. We are to know mistakes before they happen—before anyone knows what’s going on. But we do forgive you—Yes we do.
We are human after all. Alive with emotion, yet you’re teaching us to be dead inside. We only want things our own way and sometimes another person being alive gets in the way. We understand.
-A group of 9th through 12th graders
One thing that makes me very displeased with society, is how we are taught that different is bad. We are taught that different is wrong and seen as an illness. People are taught this early in life: why? The reason is because people are scared of different. Society teaches that different is a mental illness and/or criminal. Once we get this label we are shut down, shut out, locked up, drugged, or all of the above.
This label has affected me in many ways, such as: being shut out by most of everyone through k-8/part of 9th and bullied. I was the butt of everyone’s joke, pushed around, made fun of and hurt. Why, because I thought differently, had a different family, I dressed differently, had classes and was easy prey. Because of this, it shut me down, untrusting, depressed and contributed to other mental health issues that still affect me today.
What you as teachers, staff members, and as a society, need teach people is that being different is not wrong or bad; instead teach that different is okay, in fact amazing. We as a society need to teach everyone that different is nothing be ashamed of. Everyone has their own story that makes them unique and different, why not let them know that its okay to share it and be yourself. I wish that everyone knew that different is okay and not a thing to hide away.
If you’ve ever felt like you were all alone
Because of something someone has said or done,
Or if you’ve ever thought about something terrible
Because of that one person or two people or three people,
I’ll apologize for them because I know you need to hear it.
You see, I’ve learned something about people, Most of them don’t know they’re doing you harm and if they did they would not care unless it was too late.
Too many times I’ve been pushed down, and I’ve stood up,
Only to be put back down again.
I do feel angry, but that will get me nowhere.
It will only turn me into them.
I do feel sad, but that too will get me nowhere.
I’ve recently found someone to talk to.
I feel like we should all have someone.
Maybe then we would get along as people.
People claim they know more about me than I do
They hold up a book, and rattle off facts and statistics and they don’t even look me in the eye
They can’t see that the eye is rolling
People treat me like a problem to be solved Just because the wires in my brain make different connections than what doctors consider typical
The list of complaints never end
I can’t remember long division I walk too slow down the stairs
I can’t walk my route home backwards
All those wires into my eyes that should be there, they went into my ears
I can hear in perfect pitch
I can recognize dialects in languages
I don’t speak
I can’t remember when I learned to read, but it was early
You never asked
(You said you knew)
Caused by the world
Never knowing what happens
Never having anyone
Surrounded but ostracized
Causing more hurt than help
Talk to the youth
Pay attention to what is being said
Supporters of Jana Marie Foundation came together to discuss issues around mental health and to contribute thoughts to our "Sole" Stomper.
Messages of hope and encouragement were written on parts of the sneakers to help remind people how important they are and how one person can help make a difference.
Parts of sneakers were also created in memory of our loved ones that have left us to soon.
The pictures to the left provide a look at some of the pieces that were created for the "Sole" Stomper.
Created by supporters of Jana Marie Foundation, Designed by Annalisa Barron in collaboration with Chris Bittner, Mark Pilato and Mel Forkner Lesher
One step can start a journey. One smile can start a friendship. One candle can light the darkness. One act of kindness can help save a life. Our prototype Stomper has been named "Sole" to highlight the power of one. Mental illness does not discriminate but unfortunately, people sometimes do. The stigma surrounding those living with mental health issues can lead to feelings of shame, loneliness and hopelessness. Because of stigma and discrimination, more than half of those people struggling with a mental health issue fail to seek treatment. It's time to remove one word from the equation: shame. When we eliminate shame, more people will seek treatment and more lives will be saved.
Remember, one person can make a difference. Listen and learn from those around you. Reach out to those who are struggling. Remember that one glimmer of hope can help raise spirits, inspire others, and help stomp out stigma.
Sole Stomper is dedicated to those who have left us too soon, but have helped us to see how one life can inspire us to change the world.
Mel Forkner Lesher
A Big Thank You:
"Sole" Stomper was made possible through the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President's Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation.
Special Thanks To:
The Vicere Family
Very Special Thanks To:
C. Barton McCann School of Art for
providing our studio space
Click on the image below to watch a great WTAJ video on the Stompers Project.
Curtis and Chris
Custom Shoe Repair
Robert M. Sides
Whipple Dam Store
YMCA of Centre County - State College Branch