Pride Month Series: AIR Features Role Model Jessica Verpeut
The death of musical genius Chester Bennington, Linkin Park lead man, in July of 2017, rocked the world. Our son, Kenny had been a fan. Chester’s messages from pain of depression and addiction disorder resounded with Kenny and so many young people who struggle with similar illnesses.
Shortly after losing Chester, Talinda Bennington discovered Attitudes In Reverse on Twitter, and conversation ensued. In November 2017, Talinda shared with me, “I believe the tipping point is now. I pray that we can all come together to be the change.” Shortly after, she founded the 320 Change Direction Foundation, in Chester’s memory.
Each year, we remember Chester at the AIR’s Miki & Friends butterfly release. It is critical that we remember those lost too soon, and important that we continue to say their names. They were real. They were gifts that came into our lives for too short of a time.
Last fall, AIR received the honor of an invitation to participate in the first ever 320 Festival – an event created to bring awareness to the importance of mental health, provide resources to our community and normalize the conversation surrounding all mental health pursuits. Our messages aligned.
With the help of California AIR friend, Erika Wolfe, AIR was going to share the powerful In Their Shoes exhibit. It is a display of almost 500 pairs of shoes that represent CA youth, ages 5 through 24, who lost hope and ended their lives by suicide. The purpose of the exhibit is two-fold. First, to let young people know that they are not alone in their thoughts and struggles. Second, is to educate, to increase empathy and kindness towards those who struggle. AIR has exhibits in several states across the US.
While plans were being made to prepare the exhibit for the May 8th through 10th event, the nation was being overcome by Covid-19. Travel stopped. Large events were closing down as the nation was being required to social distance. We applaud Talinda and the 320 Festival team as they quickly adjusted the event to on-line. Starting the conversation about good mental health is the key, no matter what the platform.
Attitudes In Reverse, in partnership with 320 Festival, will be live streaming the event on our Facebook page. To watch, please join us on our Attitudes in Reverse Facebook Page and check out the festival. Scroll down to find the LIVE cross post from KNEKT tv. There are musical performers and mental health experts all gathering in unison to change attitudes around mental health. We all have mental health and need to take care of it before it becomes mental illness.
AIR’s In Their Shoes could not be on the ground, inspiring, but we have been invited to share our In Their Shoes video. We expect this to air at approximately 4:50 PM EST.
I encourage you to join the 320 Festival today and show your support to change direction on the conversations around mental health. Eliminating stigma will save lives.