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Semi-Colon Project

Karina Krul

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On Saturday April 17, 2016 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Scope had a guest speaker come in to speak about the Semi-Colon Project. Amy Bleuel came in to speak about the movement she started as well as to share her inspiring story. Project Semi-Colon is a storytelling movement that brought its inspiring stories to the halls of the University of New Haven.
Bleuel founded the movement while she was still in college and the movement first hit the media in Ireland and New Zealand, hitting over 200 news outlets in just 6 months. She strived to make the movement very story based, saying, “I’m here because I’m the voice for all the people who don’t have a voice or who feel they don’t have a voice.” Her goal was to raise awareness by sharing real success stories in order to tear down the stereotypes surrounding mental illness. Her goal mirrors her slogan for the project which is ‘stay strong, love endlessly, change lives’. Her stories show that “there is no definition of normal”; mental illnesses do not make people not normal. The Semi-Colon movement seeks to bring this to light and help people understand in order to improve.

The program began when Bleuel took the spotlight to share her story as well as to speak about stories she has heard in her travels. Her personal stories allow her to reach out to greater audience to remind people that they are never alone in their struggle. When asked why project Semi-Colon was so important UNH student Ankita Juvvadi said, “there are people who struggle every day and this program lets people know they aren’t alone and they do have a support system.” SCOPE member and event organizer Courtney Oakes agreed saying, “It’s important that individuals feel safe and that they have allies to make them realize they have so much to live for.”

Freshman Taryne Ross was impressed with her bravery and courage saying, “I thought it took amazing courage for her to be able to share her story and I thought it was amazing that she admitted that she still has hard days.” Ross continued saying, “I think that anyone can really benefit from the idea that it’s ok to have hard days as long as you keep moving on.” The night of sharing stories created a safe environment for students to educate themselves on mental illness and personal struggles.

As the event came to a close Bleuel opened the floor for discussion so the audience could share their thoughts and engage more with her. The program was a huge success for everyone that attended, going a long way to eliminate stereotypes and open dialogue at UNH. Bleuel encourages students to speak out about these issues to create an inclusive campus community. “I encourage people to start the conversation, to have a dialog, to have a conversation,” she says. The event was a strong step towards opening dialogues about mental illness to help people who suffer in silence for fear of being rejected by educating and empowering the campus community.

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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
Semi-Colon Project