The Newfield Central School District will be hosting its third annual Suicide Prevention Color Run and Walk at 10 a.m. on June 15 at the school district.
The event is hosted by Sources of Strength Club, which is a student-run program that solely focuses on suicide prevention through a list of eight strengths that every individual possesses to cope with challenging moments in life: family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, medical access and mental health.
“Our mission is to spread hope, health, strength and connection, and this message that everyone goes through tough times,” Jamie McCaffrey, a social worker at the school district, said. “It’s okay to ask for help. Trying to destigmatize mental health issues and struggles, and that it’s normal and that there are all these things that we have in our lives that help us to get through.”
McCaffrey said it was important for the district it create such a program because it involves students telling other students that it is perfectly normal to deal with suicidal thinking.
“We know that suicide is the second-leading cause of death amongst our young people,” she said. “We know that our people at Newfield, our students struggle with having feelings of wanting to hurt themselves, not having support in their lives and of considering suicide. We know that it’s crucial that we have to have to deliver this message; we have to boost their support.”
McCaffrey said the district has not lost a student to suicide in about 10 years. (About five years ago, former Newfield student and Ithaca College graduate Max Addy committed suicide.) She said the program has had a significant impact on the student body.
“It’s a very diverse group of students,” she said. “The club itself has been a place of strength and a place of belonging and a place of connection for a lot of our students who maybe aren’t involved in other clubs or activities.”
Registration opens at 9 a.m. on June 15 ($20 per individual, $50 per family and $100 per groups of up to 10 people). All proceeds are put towards funding for the Sources of Strength Club.
Individuals will have the option of participating in the 5K or the one-mile color run/walk. The color run and walk will feature eight stations, which represent the eight strengths, where people will toss color powder at participants running or walking.
“It’s just really a celebration of the strength of our community, and highlights all the different parts of Sources of Strength,” McCaffrey said. “We’re doing a big, healthy activity together … it’s a time where we show our family support, and mentors and positive friends come together to engage in this healthy activity and to spread awareness.”
McCaffrey said holding events like this one helps illustrate to the community the supportive environment at the district.
“I think that our events have gotten the message out to the community in a really fun, big way that we are doing positive things at Newfield, that we are focused on mental health and that we are actively trying to promote hope, health and strength and connection to in order to prevent suicide.”