Non-profit and for-profit organizations alike are applying college students’ enthusiasm to further their causes through the creation of campus branches.
Two mental health advocacy non-profits are especially benefitting from that desire to get involved.
For Jamie Tworkowski, who founded To Write Love On Her Arms in 2006 to help a friend raise money for her drug treatment, campus clubs are a way to respond to the increased interest among young people to get involved.
“It wasn’t so much that we said, ‘Hey how do we go to colleges?’” he said. “But it was more like, ‘Man how do we have a better answer for these people that want to be involved?’”
To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about self-harm, addiction, suicide and depression. The UChapters, as the campus branches of the organization are called, began in 20009. And according to twloha.com, there are now more than 60 chapters in over 20 states.
“Campus clubs are a great way for students to get involved in things they are passionate about and connect with other students with similar interests,” said Kaitlin Gladney, who started Duke University’s To Write Love On Her Arms UChapter this September.
One of the things that makes campus clubs affiliated to national organizations different from other organizations is the support, Gladney said.
“There’s a lot of exchange of ideas and support and it’s very exciting to be part of these efforts,” she said.
These sentiments were echoed by Renata Ponichtera, spokesperson for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She said students become part of a national movement when they become members of a campus chapter.
Like TWLOHA, the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s campus chapters started at the request of college students, Ponichtera said. The first one was at Arizona State University. Now there are 20 active clubs in 12 states.
Peter Alfredson, who started the National Alliance on Mental Illness on Campus at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill this year, said these clubs can help students with mental illnesses feel safe on campus.
“It’s not a support group but at the same time it’s a group of people who do support each other,” he said.
A similar goal motivates Lisa Berlangero and Destiny Wroe, two students from Sandhills Community College in North Carolina, who said they are currently working on getting a UChapter of To Write Love On Her Arms started at their school.
“People need to know that they have a safe space,” Wroe said. “That’s what we most want to do, is create a safe place for people to come and talk.”
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