Bridgeport students raise money for mental health

Photo Provided Megan Elliott, front left, a family services navigator, and Kayla Straight, a peer services navigator, both with the Greater Wheeling West Virginia National Alliance on Mental Illness, accept a donation from Bridgeport High School Interact Club, presented by senior and Vice President DaVonte Smith, back, left, junior and President Taya Cooper, and teacher and club adviser Lynette Ehrmantraut. They raised money during a mental health day in February.

BRIDGEPORT — Bridgeport Exempted Village School District’s first Mental Health Day has been a benefit to both students and the wider community, with participants able to make a contribution to the Greater Wheeling West Virginia National Alliance on Mental Illness.

On March 22, Bridgeport High School’s Interact Club donated $257.76 to NAMI. It raised the money with sales at a coffee bar during the February event where students were able to take a break from their studies and enjoy activities to relax and reduce stress.

Lynette Ehrmantraut, English teacher who serves as adviser for the Interact Club, said students took the lead in organizing the day. The Interact Club facilitates school involvement with community events.

“The students did a phenomenal job,” she said.

NAMI representatives Megan Elliott, a family services navigator, and Kayla Straight, a peer services navigator, thanked the club members, adding NAMI has a long-standing partnership with the school district.

“I think it’s really amazing that the students took it upon themselves to raise some money for our organization. We always really love coming to Bridgeport. Every year we come and we do teen mental health first aid with the sophomores. It’s always a great experience here. The kids here are super-respectful,” Elliott said.

Straight agreed.

“They’re always engaged in the learning process, interested in learning more about their own mental health, about the mental health of their friends and those around them, so it’s always an open and accepting environment.”

Straight said the donation will go to NAMI’s Bridgeport drop-in center on 857 National Road. The center is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“It’s open to anybody who lives with a mental health condition, so people can go there to find support. We do lots of activities throughout the week. We run support groups there. We provide lunch to everybody every day for free and it’s just a very open and accepting environment that people can go to be connected with resources and be provided the support that they need to be successful in their mental health recovery,” Straight said.

Ehrmantraut said supporting mental health is another part of the Interact Club’s mission.

“The students of the Interact Club decided we want to do a mental health day, and we decided: ‘Hey, how can we make the most impact, not only in our school but in our community?'”

She said NAMI is an invaluable resource for the district.

“They come in and they talk to various student groups about important mental health relationships,” Ehrmantraut said. She added that NAMI representatives spoke with sophomores last year and this year about suicide prevention. “Just the general great support for our school to be able to provide with these mental health experts.”

Ehrmantraut said options for a Mental Health Day next year include more collaboration with NAMI to expand the types of mental health offerings to students, on that day as well as throughout the year.

Taya Cooper, junior and president of the Interact Club, said she and fellow club members were excited to be involved.

“It really went amazing. Everyone really loved doing it. I know I had a really good time making the coffee and getting to distribute it to people, and just to know that it went to a good place and that we actually got to do something for other people and be involved in our community,” she said. “It’s just a great thing to get kids involved in.”

Principal Jack Fisher commended the students.

“I’m very proud of our students for coming together to create something fun, productive, and, also, beneficial to others. I’m obviously proud they were supporting a good cause and donating to support mental health awareness is a great one. The Interact Club’s work on the mental health day and the funds they were able to raise, as well as all the other work they do in our school and community, really just show how our kids shine in Bridgeport. They really do a lot of great work and we’re proud of them.”

NAMI can be reached at the drop-in center and main office at 1035 Chaplain St., Wheeling. The phone number is 304-905-0635.


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