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O.L.A. Alumni Create “Be the Light – Suicide Prevention GLOW Walk”

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A new annual event “Be the Light – Suicide Prevention GLOW Walk” is garnering a lot of attention and registrations for the kick-off on Thursday, September 1st.  With over 100 registrations and businesses jumping on the opportunity to sponsor the event, the organizing committee couldn’t be happier.

The committee is made up of alumni from Ottumwa Leadership Academy – Lindsey Gould, Ethan Lake, Jill Lane, and Cara Galloway. “For three months we had sessions that focused on various areas of our community: Health & Community Services, Education, and Law Enforcement & Public Safety,” stated Lindsey. “What we learned firsthand from these professionals is that mental health is an issue in their workplace and it’s happening with every sector of the community.”

“I vividly remember our poverty experience and the impact of having all of our local services and resources, all in one room,” stated Ethan. “I wanted to be able to offer our community more opportunities to have the ease of access and information like I had through this experience.”

Jill added, “Mental health came up in many O.L.A. sessions and it aligns with what we learned in the 2021 Resilient Communities Wapello County needs assessment.” Part of the findings are the Wapello County youth (grades 6-12) show:

  • 8% report that their families do not talk about or share their problems
  • 2% report often feeling down, depressed or hopeless
  • 9% report they have been bullied by a peer or classmate

“Our first committee meeting for the event was filled with excitement,” Cara stated. “We decided for it to be a glow walk that would include interactive experiences.”  The team of four O.L.A. alumni knew they needed some additional help with engaging the business community and invited Christy Butts, Marketing Coordinator of Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress to join them.

“I knew I could share my event planning knowledge and encourage businesses to take part. However, suicide prevention is something I hold very close to me,” shared Christy.  “My sister attempted suicide at 15 years old. I look back at that time in her life and our family and remember yearning for someone to turn to, or a group to connect with.  That is why I wholeheartedly agreed to be a part of this new event that I believe will benefit so many in our community.”

Lindsey continued, “O.L.A. encouraged and equipped me in multiple ways. I was encouraged throughout the year with DOING.  The connections we made to the community in terms of awareness of what’s going on, the connections we made with our classmates, and with other organizations that want to be DO-ers was invaluable.”

Ethan agreed, “Our O.L.A. team project helped to equip me with the skillset needed to work productively with a dynamic group to plan this event. Learning how to stay high level, and big-picture focused prepared us for organizing Be the Light Glow Walk, which we hope will have a truly positive impact on our community.”

For more information or to register go to https://www.resilientcommunitieswapello.com/be-the-light-suicide-prevention-glow-walk/