Quentin was an average high school student, quick to crack a joke and fun to be around. He had a bright future and was well liked by teachers and peers alike. At 17, Quentin attended football games, smoked a little pot and spent too much time texting. Less than a year after graduation, Quentin was dead from a heroin overdose.
Normal isn’t what it looks like. Quentin looked and acted like a million other teenagers as he battled the hidden addiction that killed him. Quentin did not have to die. To Write Love On Her Arms is an organization that reaches out to kids like Quentin and offers help without judgement. TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. With a worldwide reach, TWLOHA has invested over 1.5 million dollars to direct treatment for mental health. They have offered funding for treatment centers, sponsorship, counseling, featuring local resources for kids all over the world. TWLOHA coordinator at Warped Tour, Jason Blades explained, “Warped allows us an incredible opportunity to connect with over half a million attendees all across the US in two months. We have done Warped for the last nine years, so it definitely feels like home.” By attending Warped Tour, TWLOHA is able to connect with kids on a personal level. Even though the internet and social media have become the most common way to communicate, one-on-one interactions can be more profound. It can be the moment someone decides to look forward, instead of drowning in despair. And let’s face it: You cannot hug a friend on Facebook.
They don’t care. It is true! TWLOHA does not care where you come from, what you look like, or what you have done. Their only concern is that you have hope for the future, the opportunity to grow and whatever help you may need to get there. Pain is not exclusive to the United States and TWLOHA has expanded to address the needs of kids in our new global community. According to Blades, “We still continue to respond to messages all over the world, and send merchandise and provide resources across the globe. While the way mental health is addressed may vary, the idea of hope and finding help remains the same. Early on, we discovered that the issues TWLOHA addresses can be found in cultures and countries all over the world.” The way societies respond to the serious issues may be different, but the need for help is universal.
The song remains the same. TWLOHA has become a large organization, but stays true to its grassroots beginnings. Donations make it possible to keep the movement going forward and anyone can be a part of helping. Blades states, “Any amount is such a generous contribution that will allow us to do great things in the realm of mental health. In addition to supporting, the best thing that they can give is time,” Blades said. “Spend some time learning about the issues, so that they can be an advocate in their local community when they see someone struggling.” Even $5 can make a difference in someone’s life, but getting the word out is just as important. The most compelling element of TWLOHA is that they are people just like us. They struggle with the same demons and face the same pain. They understand what we go through, because they have been there. The TWLOHA Street Team is second to none. I look forward to seeing them at Warped Tour each year, because they sincerely look forward to seeing me too. I only wish my young friend, Quentin could have met them. However, I am encouraged when I think of the incredible reach of TWLOHA and how many kids they have helped.
Happy Anniversary! It is the tenth anniversary for a group of kids who sold T-shirts to pay for treatment for their friend and founded a global movement in TWLOHA. They state, “This year promises to be the biggest yet for the organization, with the March release of the Sony Pictures To Write Love on Her Arms film starring Kat Dennings, Chad Michael Murray, Rupert Friend & Corbin Bleu, and the May 26th release of founder Jamie Tworkowski’s debut book If You Feel Too Much – which debuted at #6 on the New York Times Best Seller list!” Many local events are planned through 2015, and you can get a full listing at their event page. Whether you need or want to help, TWLOHA is there.