#ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign Forms Teen Council

#ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign Forms Teen Council
Posted on 11/30/2018
#ZeroReasonsWhy Logo

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Contact Steff Hedenkamp
Public Affairs Director, Overflow
(816) 506-4630steff@overflowstory.com

#ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign
#ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign Forms Teen Council to Voice Teen Perceptions to City, County, and State Civic Leaders


(JOHNSON COUNTY, KANSAS) November 27, 2018 – The #ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign formed the Johnson County Teen Council to address teen suicide prevention strategies in an effort to strengthen the voices of teens and share their unique insights. In collaboration with the members of the countywide Superintendents’ Mental Health Convening, SpeakUp Foundation, and Tom Karlin Foundation, teenagers from each of the six Johnson County school districts are tackling strategy, initiatives, and tactics to improve social and emotional well-being for teens.

“It has become increasingly clear since we launched the #ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign in September we need to listen to the teens in order to disrupt this preventable epidemic,” said Spring Hill Superintendent Dr. Wayne Burke. “The Teen Council is the cornerstone of the #ZeroReasonsWhy story campaign and community mobilization effort to prevent teen suicide.”

Consisting of nine students from the six Johnson County school districts, the Teen Council met for its inaugural meeting on November 19 and plans to meet monthly through the end of the campaign in May 2019. Out of the first meeting, three pillars and objectives were identified and formed by the Teen Council to address teen suicide during the campaign.

  1. Remove the Stigma:Eliminate the stigma associated with suicide and open the dialogue for change.
  2. Build Community Support:Bring the community closer to spur unconditional support without judgment.
  3. Commit to Education:Improve and implement mental health (and suicide prevention) education consistently and earlier in school.

Acting as an Executive Team, the Teen Council is directing the #ZeroReasonsWhy Campaign team in leading student, parent, educator and practitioner initiatives and tactics related to the three objectives above. Council members will share advice and address city, county, and state civic leaders as representatives of the greater teen population.

“To be effective, the #ZeroReasonsWhy campaign is relying on the collaboration across leaders in health, government and education, and we are excited for the leadership of the Teen Council,” said Shawnee Mission Superintendent Mike Fulton. “They really are making the difference.”

Blake_v2_lowres.png“I’m Blake Burns,a senior at Gardner Edgerton High School. Suicide is a major epidemic in our society. I believe serving on the Teen Council will be a huge step to ending suicide. There are #ZeroReasonsWhy we should lose another life to suicide.”

Courtney_v2_lowres.png“My name is Courtney Costain,and I am a junior at Spring Hill High School. For me, serving on this Teen Council is important because I’ve seen the isolation and hurt caused by mental illness. I’ve witnessed the lack of education on mental health because of a stigma. There are #ZeroReasonsWhy teens should have to face mental illness uneducated and alone.”

Weston Curnow.png“My name is Weston Curnow.I am a junior at Olathe West High School. At school I am involved with our Student Council and serve as Vice President. I also am heavily involved with Choir and Theatre at my high school. Outside school I Co-Chair the City of Olathe’s Olathe Teen Council and serve as a member of the Olathe Parks and Recreation Foundation Board. I chose to serve on the Teen Council because improving my community is very important to me. Anyway I can improve the lives around me I try to get involved with. There are #ZeroReasonsWhy anyone should ever feel so isolated from their community that they see suicide as their only option.”

Taylor_v2_lowres.png“My name is Taylor Fergola,and I am a senior at Gardner Edgerton High School. I have many loved ones and kids in my school who come to me wanting me to help all the time. It frustrates me thinking there is not much I could do at the moment. That’s why I am more than grateful for this campaign and that me and everyone on it are going to try and help these cries with one smile at a time.”

Abby_v1_lowres.png“My name is Abby Hoepner,and I’m a senior at Mill Valley High School. It’s important to me we remove the stigma surrounding the discussion of suicide, which prevents teens from reaching out for help. There are #ZeroReasonsWhy we can’t talk about this.”

Mary Beth_v2_lowres.png“My name is Mary Beth Karlin,and I am a senior at Shawnee Mission West High School. My brother Tom Karlin took his life on Nov. 5, 2011 after being molested most of his life, which resulted in depression. There are #ZeroReasonsWhy suicide should even be an option for teens, kids, and even adults. We need to educate everyone on how to get help and how to cope with depression, so we can stop these suicides.”

Drew_v2_lowres.png“My name is Drew Langston,and I am a senior at Olathe East High School. Suicide is a matter that should not be taken lightly nor be forbidden to discuss. As students it is our job to take care of one another as well as ourselves. There are #ZeroReasonsWhy someone should feel alone in their community.”

Bella_v2_lowres.png“My name is Bella Price,and I am a senior at Spring Hill High School. In 2015 one of my best friends took his life right before our freshman year. Almost a year later, another student from my class took his life. Suicide and mental health is a problem at every high school and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. This Teen Council is the beginning steps to finding a solution because there are #ZeroReasonsWhy we shouldn’t talk about mental health.”

Rory_v2_lowres.png“I’m Rory Swenson,and I am currently a junior at Blue Valley North High School. My family has a deep connection to mental health issues, and since a young age I have known this would be an issue I would work toward addressing. Above all else I want to unite the community against the stigma surrounding suicide, and bring the issue into the light. There are #ZeroReasonsWhy anyone should feel as though they have no one left to turn to or to ask for help.”


#ZeroReasonsWhy is a county wide teen suicide prevention campaign. Sparked by a Superintendent-led Mental Health Convening Group to address the social and emotional well-being of students, #ZeroReasonsWhy is a story campaign and community mobilization effort that seeks to mobilize student, parent, educator and practitioner stories around a community standard of care and prevention. Focused on empowering community members to take action toward change, the campaign is organizing, facilitating, and supporting students, parents, educators, and practitioners in implementing action plans, programs, events, and collaborative outreach efforts. The community in Johnson County is coming together to remove the reasons why suicide would be an option for any teen. The following Superintendent leadership represents the six school districts of Johnson County Kansas:

  1. Todd White,Blue Valley Schools, Superintendent
  2. Frank Harwood,USD 232 – De Soto, Superintendent
  3. Pam Stranathan,Gardner Edgerton School District, Superintendent
  4. John Allison,Olathe Public Schools, Superintendent
  5. Mike Fulton,Shawnee Mission School District, Superintendent
  6. Kenny Southwick,Shawnee Mission School District, Deputy Superintendent
  7. Dr. Wayne Burke,Spring Hill School District, Superintendent


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