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Stomping Out Stigma: How One Student Group is Working to Address Mental Illness at Ottumwa High School

After 6 cases of self-harm occurred within a 2-week span at Ottumwa School District, the OHS Stomp Out Stigma group knew they needed to act. The group, which is dedicated to addressing and reducing the stigma around mental illness, reached out to the Legacy Youth Alliance for grant funding to create an awareness video and install flyer frames inside all the restroom stalls at Ottumwa High School. 

“The video has been a valuable resource for students, providing them with a way to understand and address their own mental health without having to do extensive research on the topic,” says Jadelynn Peterson, an 11th grade student in the Stomp Out Stigma group. 

The grant funding allowed the Stomp Out Stigma group to create an influential video that speaks to the realities of mental illness and encourages students to seek help when they need it. The video has been posted on the school’s website, shared with local mental health service providers, and was shown to the entire student body at a school-wide pep assembly. 

“I’m incredibly proud of the work that the Stomp Out Stigma group has done to raise awareness about mental health in our school,” says Kolby Streeby, the group’s advisor. “Their determination and commitment to ending the stigma around mental illness is truly inspiring.” 

The work of the Stomp Out Stigma group is a powerful example of the impact that youth-led initiatives can have in addressing mental health issues. By seeking out grant funding from organizations like the Legacy Youth Alliance, which funds youth-led projects or youth-serving organizations, the group was able to make a real difference at Ottumwa Community School District. 

For more information on mental illness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website. And if you are a youth-led group or youth-serving organization looking for funding, apply for the next Legacy Youth Alliance grant, application cycle runs from January 1 to February 28, 2023.