During an emotional assembly Friday morning, members of the Cocalico chapter of Aevidum introduced Penn Manor High School students to the organization, which seeks to raise awareness among teens about depression and suicide. The goal of Aevidum is to create a culture where mental wellness is embraced and students feel supported by the theme of “I’ve got your back.”
During the assembly, Emily Keller of Cocalico spoke publicly for the first time about the pain of losing her brother, Kyle Hainley, to suicide in 2010. She brought along a tribute to Kyle that includes her thoughts, quotes and photos affixed to one of his skateboards. Aevidum founder Joe Vulopas explained how the organization was started following a student suicide at Cocalico in 2004 and now has a nationwide reach. “Suicide is almost 100 percent preventable,” Vulopas told the crowd, urging students to pool their interests, creativity and talents to support each other.
The Penn Manor Aevidum group is working to develop specific activities and projects. The chapter was established with a grant from the Penn Manor Education Foundation and is being implemented in conjunction with TeenHope, a new partnership with Samaritan Counseling Center to provide emotional screenings for 9th-graders.