OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — New murals will soon be featured in the Kansas City metro that focus on teen suicide prevention.
"They are telling other people their stories in a sense because of what their message says," said Kyra Fuchs, a Zero Reasons Why Teen Council member.
In September, AT&T launched a campaign to support local groups that are working to help teens when it comes to their mental health and reducing the number of teen suicides. The company dedicated more than $300,000 to the epidemic.
One project that’s part of the campaign involves Zero Reasons Why, a teen council that aims to combat suicide, along with InterUrban ArtHouse. Together, the groups created a mental health mural contest.
"We put out for artists for middle and high school students in the metro area with a theme of only hope and healing," said Angi Hejduk, CEO of InterUrban ArtHouse.
Teens had two months to work on a piece of art that they felt represented mental health and teen suicide awareness.
"We had initial interest of over 400 students, and we ended up getting about 140 art entries for the project," Hejduk said.
Partner organizations that AT&T selected got to vote on the final eight students.
Fuchs, with Zero Reasons Why, said one person seeing the uplifting mural could change a life.
"Every day when you are seeing them, driving past them, if you are really having a bad morning, you see that and go, 'oh yeah,' and you think about all the good stuff in your life," Fuchs said. "If you saw one that said you are loved, you might think about all the people you love."
The top eight students will be narrowed down to two finalists in a unique way.
"We will create a web portal for those. We are going to invite area middle and high schools, they will be able to select a mural design they would like to have printed on a banner," Hejduk said. "We will send that to them at no cost."
At the end of this week, more than 200 schools in the metro will get to pick their favorite design.
Organizers with the mental health mural initiative said this is more than just a mural, it is a beacon of hope.
"If they see one, they will be like there is so many people in my life. I have so many reasons why I need to be here and that there are truly zero reasons why I should complete suicide," Fuchs said.
The top eight finalists include:
- Mia Anderton, Spring Hill High School
- Jenna Campbell, Shawnee Mission Northwest
- Madelyn Hall, Leawood Middle School
- Drew Plum, Liberty High School
- Raquelle Perry, Liberty High School
- Mariel Pepitone, Pembroke Hill
- Kate Kozlowski, Prairie Star Middle
- Sophie Ahrens, Kansas City Academy
The top two designs will be crowned winners after the schools have selected their designs. Each student will work with artists from the ArtHouse. One design will be displayed in Missouri and the other in Kansas.