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By Maggie Andresen

This past Sunday May 19th, Clarkstown North High School acted as a vehicle for change and increased awareness by hosting a campus walk-a-thon partnered with the Hudson Valley chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This ‘Out of the Darkness’ walk featured donated food from local businesses Dunkin Donuts and Bagel Boys, as well as enlisting local musicians and DJs who volunteered their time for entertainment.

The grey drizzle present this Sunday did nothing to dampen the spirit of those who walked to honor their lost loved ones. Readings by English department chair Karen Czajkowski and Art department chair Nancy Diamond kicked off the three mile walk, which concluded with a balloon release meant to symbolize the release of loved ones. Friends and families walked in seperate teams to commemerate their lost loved ones, but everybody walked together to show their support in solidarity for the cause.

Clarkstown North’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society had been integral in preparing for the walk; spreading the word, painting signs, gaining sponsors, and organizing various parts of the event that allowed it to run seamlessly. Members showed up early to campus the day of the walk-a-thon to set up tents, tables, and coordinate speakers. Online donations merited $3,789.00, additional funds were raised the day of the walk. All donations to the AFSP- Hudson Valley chapter will benefit suicide prevention research and education initiatives.

A memory quilt was hung in memory of those who had passed, added to by participants from various other walks in addition to loved ones honored at CHSN’s campus walk. Memory beads were distributed as well, different colors significant of the relationship one had with their loved one.

Maria Idoni, director of AFSP’s Hudson Valley chapter, graciously aided in planning the minutiae of the walk-a-thon, working tenuously and keeping contact consistantly with Nancy Diamond and the Art Honor Society to make the walk a success.

The walk could not have come at a more salient time, two alumni of Clarkstown North having taken their own lives within the last year. As of 2010 depression is the number one mental health disorder worldwide, with better education initiatives and opportunities for suicide awareness people at risk can get the help they need.

Suicide is 100% preventable. There is always hope.

For information about future walks, support for survivors, or to receive appropriate help for depression please use the contact information for AFSP Hudson Valley found below.

Hudson Valley Chapter: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

P.O. Box 266 Lagrangeville, NY 12540

Email: hudsonvalleyny@afsp.org

Phone: (914) 417-7993

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