Just as each Holocaust Museum visitor assumes the identity of a Holocaust victim, the powerful IN THEIR SHOES™ display literally draws individuals not only into the shoes, but also into the minds of youth who struggle with mental health disorders and suicidal thoughts. Metaphorically, stopping the participants in their tracks as a result of the high impact, this is a profound way to build empathy and eliminate stigma.

Debra L. Wentz, PhD
Chief Executive Officer, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies

The IN THEIR SHOES™ display is literally breathtaking. The power of seeing all those empty shoes stops you in your tracks and sends a poignant message that serves as an invaluable tool in the efforts to prevent suicide.

Jennifer Velez
Commissioner, NJ Department of Human Services

Attitudes In Reverse® has provided our students with a most important resource. Due to the work of the AIR volunteers, our students know that they are not alone. They learn that the stigma associated with mental illness need not close them off from normal functioning….from happiness. There are people out there who will listen and help them when all seems lost. AIR tells them that they can…that they deserve the help they need.

Mrs. Baker has related to me emails from our students thanking them for opening their eyes to the resources available, and perhaps more importantly, how to be that good listener for others. We hope to continue our relationship with AIR in the future for the benefit of our students.

Michael Zapicchi
Principal, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North

AIR’s presentation in my high school building received overwhelming support from both faculty and students. Its message regarding erasing mental illness stigma and letting students know it’s okay to ask for help seemed to break down the barriers as several students came up after each presentation to ask for more information. Faculty members, including teachers, guidance counselors and administrators, have requested AIR to come back and present again. I look forward to continuing my relationship with AIR and helping our students get the support they need to achieve overall health and wellness.

Julie Schick
Director of Athletics, Health & Physical Education & Nurses at Perth Amboy Public Schools

The Attitudes in Reverse® Coming Up for AIR™ program highlighted some myths and facts about mental illness. The AIR presentation asked students to choose celebrities they felt had struggled with mental illness; the presentation then highlighted the successful paths and varied history of many famous people. Tricia Baker also told the students about the struggles they had witnessed within their own family; she shared their personal struggles with her son’s suicide, as well as others’ reactions to his passing away. This personal revelation touched a chord in many of the students and staff at Schor. Students appeared interested in the program and it brought to light concerns that encouraged the students to reach out to the counseling department.

AIR’s presentation creates a comprehensive picture of mental health. AIR volunteers work to make sure that students are aware that many people struggle with mental illness and that there are many people to whom the students can reach out to ask for help. I think that this is a great presentation for 7th and 8th graders.

Kaitlin G. Gonzales, Psy.M
Behaviorist/School Psychologist Theodore Schor Middle School

Finding ‘just the right dog’ for my 11-year-old son Matthew through the AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds program has made a significant positive impact for a boy challenged by the daily struggles of living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, depression and anxiety.

Matthew seemingly steps outside of his social awkwardness with his dog Roxie by his side, speaking freely about Roxie’s mixed breed, combination French Bulldog and Beagle, Frengle. Matthew discusses how ‘dogs are good for our mental health’. Typically preferring to spend time with canines over other kids, Matthew happily attends AIR awareness events, seizing the opportunity to showcase Roxie and hang with other dog lovers.

Lauren Campbell
NJ Certified School Counselor; MA Counseling Services