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Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!

by Center for Health & Learning
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!

With all the uncertainty that COVID 19 is bringing to our lives and communities, CHL and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center wants to remain a resource for young people with Umatter® Youth and Young Adults.  We can’t always guarantee safety with in person events, and so for the moment, we are adapting and sustaining our work in order to maintain contact with our youth participants even though they are out of the physical school environment. 

We are moving to the virtual-verse!

Since the Umatter YYA in-person culmination event scheduled for April 29 was cancelled, we are moving the event to a virtual format. Through a facilitated process, Umatter YYA participants will be able to share their stories, experiences with YYA, celebrate successes, and generally connect about what is happening in their worlds.

Because the YYA curriculum concepts are as important now as ever. 

CHL is also offering interested youth a wonderful creative opportunity by requesting input on a re-design of the website.  This award-winning website will be improved and informed by youth feedback about how it could be better and more useful to them and their peers.

Knowing how important it is to continue this work, CHL will continue to adapt our programming to meet the needs of the schools, adults and young people who we have the honor of working with. 

We expect there to be many more mental health challenges to address that have been brought on with the current COVID-19 crisis.  With your support, we can be there to help.

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Ten schools across the state of Vermont are participating in this year’s Umatter Youth and Young Adult program this school year.  The Kick Off Training event was held Nov. 14th, 2019 at Lake Morey Resort and was facilitated by six Rutland High School students and 4 adult supporters covering topics including how to change your mindset, cope with stress, and help a friend who maybe thinking of suicide.

Overall, 95% of the youth who attended the event ranked it as good or excellent and stated that the most useful aspects were learning how to help a friend thinking of suicide.  “It is so important to address this issue and give youth the skills and resources they need to help their friends,” says Umatter YYA Trainer, Debby Haskins. “We emphasize in the training that they never want to keep suicide a secret and help teens identify adutls they can go to for help.”

Preliminary data on pre-post evaluation of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors show a significant change in the following:

  • Increased understanding of how to use resources to maintain mental health.
  • Increased awareness of emotions
  • Increased confidence in knowing the resources available to help friends who are suicidal.
  • Increased awareness of the warning signs of suicide.
  • More students had supportive adults they could speak to. 
  • Fewer students felt bad about themselves in the light of others' success. 
  • More students walked away from the event with 3 constructive strategies to deal with stress.

The 10 groups are now meeting regularly in their schools and will be planning Mental Health Wellness Community Action Projects to impact their school community.  The groups will come together again at the end of April to share their projects and celebrate their efforts.

To lean more visit:

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The Umatter Youth and Young Adult (YYA) program kicks off this year on November 14th at Lake Morey Resort. We are currently recruiting groups of youth ages 12-21 from schools and community organizations. Our new promotional video is helping us communicate what youth can expect to experience and achieve by participating. You can view the video here:

 This year we are conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the program. Evaluators from the Center for Rural Studies are creating evaluation tools to gather both process and impact data. This information will help us improve the quality of the program as well as determine how the program impacts the resiliency of participating youth. A full evaluation report will be published by June 2020. 

Umatter YYA is collaborating with a number of organizations around the state of Vermont who also provide youth engagement opportunities including Vermont Afterschool, UVM Extension, Up for Learning, and Vermont Federation of Families to name a few. This collaboration will allow us to offer new opportunities for leadership and facilitation skill development as well as connection with other youth leaders around the state. We are excited to be a part of the growing efforts to empower youth to take action in impacting issues that matter to them.

Please help support Umatter for Youth and Young Aduts by giving to this project today!

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Umatter YYA participants presenting their work.
Umatter YYA participants presenting their work.

The Umatter for Youth and Young Adults (Umatter YYA) program for 2018-19 is complete!  Overall, 12 schools and 68 youth participated and implemented Mental Health Wellness Community Action Projects in their school.  Some of the projects were really insightful and creative:

Our group decided to create a workshop for 6th grade students about how to deal with stress/worries because we wish we had gotten this information when we were younger. We met weekly to design our workshop and decided to use ClassDojo - short online videos with discussion questions about changing mindset for younger children. Unfortunately we were unable to present the workshop before the end of the year, but plan to pick the project back up in the fall.

This fall, our group planted a tulip garden for The Yellow Tulip Project, as a way to smash the stigma surrounding mental illness, build community, and inspire productive conversations about how to combat the rising rates of suicide. In the spring, we had a Yellow Tulip Celebration. We had all kinds of food, and we did a "kindness rocks" project (over 50 river rocks were painted yellow and students took paint markers and wrote kind messages on the rocks to give to friends, keep for themselves, or put in the garden). We also had a "Hope Happens" poster where people wrote down what makes them hopeful. Next fall we plan to do the "I Am More" campaign, which we hope will help draw other people into the cause/club.

A detailed list of all projects is attached to this Report.

To culminate the success of the program, six schools attended the Youth Summit event on May 30, 2019 at Vermont Technical College.  The Umatter Youth Leadership Council did an amazing job facilitating the day. Each group shared about their Community Action Projects, reflected on their experience as a group, and planned next steps.  

Here are what Umatter YYA participants are saying about their experience:

“Umatter helped me gain self-confidence and make new friends”

“I like being a part of a group that is actively trying to improve the school and the life of students.”  

“People should join Umatter if they want to make a difference in their communities.  By normalizing the conversation on mental health, we help people feel less alone which ultimately brings people together.

A new Umatter YYA program will begin this Fall.  Please continue to support this important program that reaches our youth and gives them the tools and skills for positive mental health in their schools and communities!  

Presentation at the Technical College
Presentation at the Technical College

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YYA Activity: Fishbowl, changing mindsets
YYA Activity: Fishbowl, changing mindsets

Last month Bellows Falls Union High School and Compass School brought teams of students to participate in the Umatter Youth and Young Adult Program. These youth were excited to participate because they wanted to learn how to cope with their own stress and how to help their friends in distress.

The Umatter YYA program begins with a one day training event where youth learn the core components of how to maintain good mental health. This includes understanding the 5 dimensions of health, how to cope with stress, and develop a growth mindset. Using experiential games, videos, creative projects, and group discussion these concepts are explored and applied to real life examples.

When asked about the types of stressful situations youth are dealing with in their schools, participants listed dealing with problems within families, school violence, losing people close to them, difficulties in dating relationships, school work load, worries about life after high school, worrying about what others think of them, and talking in front of a large group of people.

By the end of the day, participants knowledge of how to deal with these situations in positive and constructive ways increased by 50%. They walked away with renewed focus on their strengths and how they can use them to help others.

The groups are now meeting regularly to plan and implement Community Action Projects. In May, these schools will join 10 other schools, who participated in the Umatter YYA statewide training event in January, to celebrate their work, inspire others, and determine how to continue to support their own and other’s mental wellness.

We are grateful for your support of our Golbal Giving project that makes this work possible. If you know a school that you think could participate in a Umatter YYA program, contact

YYA Activity Circle
YYA Activity Circle
YYA Bellows Falls Presentation
YYA Bellows Falls Presentation


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Organization Information

Center for Health & Learning

Location: Brattleboro, VT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @health_learning
Project Leader:
Sara Haimowitz
Brattleboro, VT United States
$13,794 raised of $15,000 goal
221 donations
$1,206 to go
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