Goal to train area students in mental health gets boost.

July 7, 2016
Barb Davidson, mother of the late Wayne Elhart, speaks from the heart about the memorial fund established by her family for her late son.​

Barb Davidson, mother of the late Wayne Elhart, speaks from the heart about the memorial fund established by her family for her late son.​

#OceanaCountyNews   #WayneElhartBeNiceMemorialFund

Contributed by Ron Beeber.

PENTWATER — The effort to bring mental illness awareness and suicide prevention training to more primary and secondary school children in Oceana, Lake and Mason counties received a boost at a recent fundraiser at the Pentwater Yacht Club for the Wayne Elhart Be Nice Memorial Fund.

Pentwater High School junior Wyatt Collins talks about how meaningful the training was to the student body, while Walkerville High School senior Perrin Kirwin awaits his turn to speak. Looking on is Jeff Elhart, brother of the late Wayne Elhart.

Pentwater High School junior Wyatt Collins talks about how meaningful the training was to the student body, while Walkerville High School senior Perrin Kirwin awaits his turn to speak. Looking on is Jeff Elhart, brother of the late Wayne Elhart.

Be nice 3

Carol Messerlie (L) celebrates winning an Adirondack chair built by Gene Davidson (R).

Some $15,000 was contributed by event patrons through a raffle of a unique assortment of sculptures, furniture, art, jewelry and other items that were donated by area businesses and individuals.

The Elhart We Be Nice Fund was set up last December by Elhart’s family after his battle with depression caused him to take his own life 15 months ago.

Sue Hughes bids on an item in the auction.

Sue Hughes bids on an item in the auction.

The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan has developed a “Be Nice” initiative that spreads awareness about how every day, we will encounter someone who may be struggling personally, or is affected by a family member or friend who is. The training deals with the importance of treating people with civility community-wide, and focuses on school-wide change through simple, daily actions.

Event patrons received a card explaining the acronym “Be Nice,” which stands for Notice signs of depression, Invite yourself to initiate a conversation, Challenge the stigma and communicate important resources, and Empower yourself that you can affect how someone thinks, acts and feels.​

The cost to train the nearly 8,000 students attending schools in the West Shore Educational Service District is $200,000, and the “Elhart Be Nice” Fund has set an ambitious goal for itself – to raise half this amount as matching dollars. They are more than a third of the way toward their $100,000 fundraising goal. The Community Foundation for Oceana County manages the fund.

Kris Bluhm, Karen Theibert, Betty Johnson and Chris Conroy listen intently.

Kris Bluhm, Karen Theibert, Betty Johnson and Chris Conroy listen intently.

The program already has been introduced in Pentwater and Walkerville, and is slated next for Hart, Shelby and part of Ludington public schools.

 

 

 

More information is available at:  http://oceana-foundation.org/component/funds/view/3894, www.beniceonline.com, and www.themhf.org. Or, contact Barb Davidson at 231.869.5342 or by email at [email protected]

 

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