WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Suspenders4Hope started back in 2015 with help from a grant used by the Wichita State University Counseling Services.
“Our most successful part of our grant work was the development of the awareness campaign The Suspenders4Hope,” explained Jessica Provines, the Assistant VP of Wellness at WSU. “After the grant funding expired, we decided we could develop our own training and tie it to the suspenders — it promoted itself.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, WSU Counseling Services knew they needed to push this program to the masses.
Now, Suspenders4Hope has spread to one area school, Bishop Carroll Catholic High School.
Suspenders4Hope is planning to be introduced to Kapaun Mount Carmel High School later this year. If you’d like to see about your school joining this program, click here.
On Friday, more than 1,200 students and faculty at BCCHS showed their support for mental wellness during “Suspenders Friday”.
“It just tells me that what we’re trying to accomplish is becoming a reality,” explained Provines.
Students were able to earn a special school colors-themed t-shirt if they completed a 90-minute training through Suspenders4Hope. The online training raises difficult questions, which made for some challenging discussions.
“I have one student that doesn’t feel comfortable, and I said ‘that’s exactly why we’re doing this.’ If they’re not comfortable talking about it or even going through the training, that’s why we’re trying to make it a normal conversation,” said Cindy Gordon, a BCCHS teacher explained one situation with a student.
Friday’s activities at Bishop Carroll included flashcards that helped get the discussion on mental health started.
“They’re just something we could spread over the weeks to keep them going, we make it fun,” said Gordon.
Friday also provided an opportunity for students to learn about suicide prevention and mental health.
“I’ve had like family members attempt suicide and I remember just not really knowing what to do,” said BCCHS senior, Grace Rosa. “And I remember just trying my best in the situation to help them as much as possible.”
Now, if the students face a situation, they have training on their side to know how to react.
“Hopefully, we will be able to help kids at our school when or if they’re ever put in that situation to be able to have the confidence to know what to do,” added Rosa.
It also brings out an opportunity for teens to have, peer-to-peer discussions about mental health.
“I like peer-to-peer better than adults,” explained BCCHS freshman, Alivia Snyder. “Because I think they can relate better because they’re more in the surrounding than adults would be. They’re in the circle.”