Posted Thursday, February 21st, 2019
Students from Boonton, Long Hill, and Montville to be Honored at March 8 Event — Featuring Performance by NJ Mental Health Players
Three students from Boonton, Long Hill, and Montville have been announced as the winners of a countywide Stigma-Free essay contest run by the Montville and Boonton United Methodist Churches, which are members of the countywide Stigma-Free Initiative.
Winners of the contest are:
Junior High Winner: Melody Hart, Homeschooled, Long Hill (Gillette), Grade 8;
High School Winner for Primary Essay: Samia Shivon, Boonton High School, Grade 11;
High School Winner: Esme Lockwood, Montville High School, Grade 11.
The contest was an initiative of Donald Kirschner, pastor of both the Montville United Methodist Church and Boonton United Methodist Church, and whose congregations sponsored the prize awards.
The winning students will receive their awards at a “Rising Out of the Ashes” event to be held in Montville, and designed to educate and raise awareness about stigmatized issues such as addiction and mental health.
The event, which is free, will be held on March 8 at Montville United Methodist Church, 29 Whitehall Rd. in Towaco, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A light dinner will be served, along with a special performance by the NJ Mental Health Players, who are as entertaining as they are educational. In addition, a number of organizations on the front lines of addressing Stigma-Free issues will present materials and helpful resources.
“Determining our winners proved to be a much more difficult decision than we anticipated, as we had a number of amazing entries,” Pastor Kirschner said. “We were moved and inspired by what students wrote, sometimes even personal and vulnerable things that spoke to how certain stigmatized issues impacted their lives.
“Their essays revealed their passion for being stigma free and their desire to give voice to some of the hidden realities that so many stigmatized individuals often deal with.”
Participating junior high school and high school students were invited to write about the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders. Students were required to write a primary essay topic on how stigma has impacted them or persons they know, and what suggestions they might offer to their community to help lessen the negative impact of the stigma surrounding the issue being addressed in their essays.
Two additional short essay pieces required entrants to describe why it’s important to be stigma free, as well as describe a project they would like to initiate to help eliminate stigma attached to any of the issues.
At the March 8 event, representatives from New Pathway Counseling and the Montville Stigma-Free Taskforce will offer information. Mickey Gilbert’s College Choice and Boiling Spring Savings Bank are event sponsors.