WE RISE aims to unite communities and youth to advocate for and address issues relating to mental health care and wellbeing. We believe the principles and approach are readily adaptable to fit your community, your capacity, and your mental health landscape. While the Los Angeles event touched on a wide array of topics such as bullying, the impact of trauma, eating disorders, anxiety, criminal justice reform and homeless-ness, youth attending WE RISE in your city may face different issues.
You will likely need to engage artists and arts organizations to source pieces that inspire and motivate. In addition to establishing collaborative partnerships with community arts groups, you also may want to consider holding an “open call” for local artists to submit work around timely mental health topics.
Develop your WE RISE campaign based on these principles:
- Be inclusive: Invite artists and speakers who reflect the racial, cultural, socio-economic and sexual orientation identities of the youth in your community. Seek out bold, creative representations of the issues faced by local youth and families.
- Be the stigma-free environment you want to achieve: Acknowledge stigma, but help participants move beyond it to explore solutions that will help your community thrive. Set up conversations, activities and exhibits to provoke honest discussion around the outcomes that youth want and deserve.
- Be open and nimble: By providing an experience grounded in respect, reflection and action, you open the doors to incredible conversations, and potentially difficult ones around social issues, SMIs, and personal experiences. Your role is to provide an avenue and guidance for youth to connect, process and heal—but also an opportunity to influence and lead. This is their space.
- Be flexible to stay relevant: Young people are the experts on what’s going on right now. Be in tune with issues and news that are pertinent to their lives. If a national or local story around a mental health issue is dominating headlines and chatter, be prepared to incorporate it.
- Be ready to change the online conversation: Tell your community’s story on social media as part of event promotion and wrap-up. Invite local influencers and youth leaders to share their perspectives during the lead up to the events and afterward. While you can’t have a dialogue with everyone on social, like or retweet/share as you can and include WE RISE examples from other cities to demonstrate that your attendees are part of a larger movement.
- Be Accessible: Make sure events are as accessible to all as possible (e.g., for people with disabilities, ASL, etc.). Also, consider public transportation options when choosing a venue.
Execution calendar and checklist
Planning a WE RISE campaign involves both coordination and collaboration. Here is a sample timeline and to-dos to help keep you on track.