On May 19, the Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention (FISP) is teaming up with the HOPE Sunshine Clubs of Broward County for the fifth annual Hugs for HOPE 5k Walk/Run. The event will take place at Markham Park from 7:30 to 9:30 in the morning.
Helping Overcome Problems Effectively (HOPE) Club, or the HOPE Sunshine Club exists for students to come together in order to discuss the topics of bullying, suicide prevention and awareness, substance abuse, and other mental health-related issues. Every year, the club members from different schools come together for FISP’s Hugs for HOPE Walk/Run. Members of the school and community are encouraged to walk or run for the cause.
Members of the community are encouraged to unite for the honorance to those who lost their lives to suicide, along with educating themselves and others about bullying, drug abuse and suicide prevention. The event is filled with music, hugs, candy and constant reminders that there is someone there for you.
For adults, pre-registration is $25 and registration on May 19 is $30. For students, registration is not necessary. Instead, a timed walk or run is $15 and one that is not timed is $10. All proceeds go to support groups for families or individuals directly affected by suicide and towards creating more HOPE Sunshine Clubs in other counties for all grades.
Students wishing to attend should register under “TEAM COOPER CITY HS” at fisponline.org. Service hours can be earned during this event if the student is registered and shows their student ID at the walk. It is an all-ages event.
Members of CCHS’ HOPE Sunshine Club will be present at the event, handing out T-shirts and phone numbers at a booth to inform the community about the club. Senior Alyssa Levy is president of the club as well as an advocate for suicide prevention and awareness.
“[Suicide prevention and awareness] is something I believe is a topic not talked about enough,” Levy said. “It’s considered [to be] a topic capable of being joked about.”
According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), suicide was the second leading cause of death from ages 10-34 in 2016, right after unintentional injury. In 2014, about 13 people committed suicide for every 100,000 (NIMH). Spreading awareness and discussing ways to prevent this can help to bring these numbers down, and HOPE Sunshine Club members are passionate about the cause.
“This walk gives me the opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded individuals as well as to reach out to others in the community,” Levy said. “[I am able to] spread awareness on something I am so passionate about.”
FISP implemented HOPE Club to help assist Florida’s efforts to prevent suicide. The club developed and grew over time, causing the to change their name to the “HOPE Sunshine Club.” This development over time is also reflected in the Hugs for Hope walk that has been taking place every year for five years. All Broward County schools have a HOPE Sunshine Club, with a Broward County approved curriculum, as well.
Photo courtesy of CCHS