More than 1,400 Hope Squad members met at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland to attend the second-annual conference on Oct. 19.
Students from 29 North Texas school districts connected and learned how to break the stigma of mental health and provide help and hope to their fellow students and communities.
Hope Squads are students educated through evidence-based training modules to recognize signs of suicide ideation and help peers connect with trusted adults.
“I’m proud of these young individuals who, through the simple acts of service, kindness, and leadership, are saving lives and helping their peers,” Grant Halliburton Foundation president Kevin Hall said. “This conference provides Hope Squad members an opportunity to learn more about how they can provide a safe and supportive space at their schools for students struggling with mental health and help reverse staggering statistics.”
Janeé Hill with Unbroken emceed speakers including Alex Boyé, a multicultural, multigenerational, global artist and musician and creator of the inspirational “I Am a 10!” song and video. The event also included a visit from PINK the Bus.
The conference was presented by a collaboration of The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation, Grace Loncar Foundation, and Grant Halliburton Foundation, local nonprofits founded in memory of a loved one lost to suicide.
“According to the most recent Texas YRBS survey, 1 in 8 Texas teens contemplated suicide in the last year,” said Matt Vereecke, CEO of The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation. “Students selected to be members of Hope Squads are an essential part of reversing these troubling numbers.”
Currently, there are more than 3,000 Hope Squad members on more than 200 Hope Squads across North Texas.