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June 19, 2015
By Nikeila Jensen, media relations assistant
Northwest students and faculty are pictured on the stairs of a Brooklyn hostel. The group traveled to New York in May to participate in the National Alliance on Mental Illness Walks NYC 5k and continue their work with the #IWILLLISTEN campaign. (Submitted photo)
Northwest Missouri State University students and faculty are continuing their efforts to fight mental health stigma and educate communities about mental illness.
Seventeen Northwest students, faculty and staff members participated May 9 in the 2015 National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walks NYC 5k to raise awareness, battle misconceptions and celebrate individuals recovering from mental illness. The opportunity was a continuation of their work in the Maryville community, which included #IWillListen campaign kickoff events in April.
“The chance to go to New York and be a part of that movement was one of the best experiences I have ever had,” said Lucy Hilliard, a sophomore deciding major from Batavia, Ill. “It is showing that you don’t have to be afraid to get help and talking to people in order to get the help that you rightly deserve. We show that we are here to listen no matter what.”
In the five days leading up to the 5k, the group met with Northwest alumnus Beau Hayen, who arranged for the group to serve at MASBIA, a Brooklyn soup kitchen network that provides meals to the homeless. Students served more than 200 people and helped clients package food to take with them after the meal.
Hilliard and Sean Cahill, a senior psychology and sociology major from Lee’s Summit, Mo., were chosen to participate in NAMI’s president for a day program in recognition of their campaign fundraising achievements. They shadowed Wendy Brennan, the executive director of NAMI-NYC Metro, and met with Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Before traveling to New York, the group participated in a three-credit academic service course that included contributing at least 25 hours to the #IWillListen campaign, a term paper and participation in the 5k. They also coordinated fundraising and planning for the trip.
The #IWillListen campaign launched at Northwest April 20-21. Community members were invited to gather for social activities and make pledge videos for social media in addition to hearing from Maryville Mayor Renee Riedel and Barb Ricci, the board president of NAMI-NYC Metro. In the weeks leading up to the campaign kickoff, students and faculty also sold T-shirts.
Northwest raised more than $2,000 for the NAMI 5k and another $2,000 to fund the trip to New York to participate in the 2015 NAMI Walks NYC 5k and other service projects. As the first rural community to join the movement, Maryville had a higher percentage of participants than New York residents, and the efforts of the Northwest community garnered national attention on the Huffington Post.
“People were really engaged and a lot of people were visibly moved,” Ricci said. “It was really touching to see how much caring there is between colleagues, students, neighbors, and acquaintances.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468