Hannah Mitchell, 18, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, a senior at Pine Creek High School, helped start a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teens who are dealing with suicidal feelings, and raised more than $4,000 for that cause by organizing two citywide art shows to focus public attention on teen mental health and suicide prevention. In September of 2016, Hannah’s world changed when her best friend committed suicide. “In my life, I had never experienced such pain,” she said. “While grieving, I turned to art as an outlet for all of the pain, confusion and tumultuous emotions I felt.” She also joined with several peers in her county to form an organization called “Project Reasons” to “remind suicidal people and people dealing with mental disorders of the things and people that are worth staying alive for,” she said.
Hannah wanted to raise money to support Project Reasons, and because of her interest in art, decided to organize a citywide art gallery event. For two years in a row, she sought support from students, teachers and businesses; recruited volunteers and student artists to participate; and promoted the events via social and news media. Through the sale of tickets to the public and the auction of donated artworks, Hannah’s shows raised more than $4,000 to help Project Reasons create a mobile app and a video series, expand regionally, and purchase art supplies for a local mental health center’s art therapy group. Hannah also wrote a manual detailing the organizational process involved in her art fundraiser so that it can continue after she graduates, and for years to come.