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People for Positive Lives Changes Lives

People for Positive Lives Changes Lives

Candelight vigil
Students join a candlelight vigil to pray for those who have been impacted by suicide.

Two years ago, two students had a dream of creating a campus organization that would provide help and information to students struggling with mental health issues. Mimi Ali ’17 and Krystyna Stopyra ’17 took a grassroots approach, according to advisor, Chelsea Farren, assistant to the vice president for student life.

“They looked at other organizations to get ideas for ways to raise awareness around mental health issues,” says Farren. “The group is very student-driven, with students who are at various places in their lives and from first-years to seniors.”

Ali and Stopyra were joined by Darby Pistilli ’17 and Alexandra Thomas ’17 to form the core group. About 15-to-20 regulars attend the support-type meetings in which participants share personal experiences and promote the services of CHC’s Counseling Center.

People for Positive Lives participates in the annual Out of the Darkness event, a walk to raise awareness around suicide prevention, and an event, known as Challenge Day, in which students take part in an activity called “If You Really Knew Me,” in which each one has 1-to-2 minutes to speak their truth and share something about what they’ve overcome in their lives.

In another activity known as the Privilege Walk, students stand in a straight line and hold hands, Farren explains. A facilitator reads out statements and tells the students to either take a step forward or backwards depending on their answers. Statements might include: If your parents hold college degrees, take a step forward. If you are a woman, take a step back. If you have ever experienced a lack of food, take two steps back.

“These statements and the movements are designed to demonstrate that although they are all in the same place now, they all started college from different places,” Farren says. “At some point, the hands break apart and it’s a difficult reality for many students.

“But they ask for this activity. They want to have the tough conversations,” she adds.

Interested students should visit the Student Activity Fair held in September or contact Farren at 215-753-3642 or farrenc@chc.edu.

—Brenda Lange

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