PHILIPSBURG:--- After nearly three decades, St. Maarten Academy’s Key Club was rechartered with budding service boys and girls under the leadership of the school’s Vice Principal Joanna Trim. The new Key Club, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Aruba, kicked off its first activity by recognizing World Suicide Prevention Month on the last Wednesday of September.
Donned in orange and black to mark the occasion, Key Club members gathered in the school’s courtyard at the break on September 28, 2022, to acknowledge the importance of the mental health of teenagers and honor the memory of those teenagers who lost their struggle to suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic years 2020-2022. Every year the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes September as World Suicide Prevention Month and observances this year promoted their triennial theme: “Creating Hope Through Action” 2021-2023.
Key Club President, Sabéa Nanton addressed the gathering of faculty, students, and guest representative –Ms. Emmalexis Velasquez of the Mental Health Foundation. President Nanton reminded her captive audience: “ In the words of Sean Swarner ‘You can go a month without food, you can go three days without water, but you can’t go more than sixty seconds without HOPE…’ WHO asserts that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among those in the 15-19 years age bracket. This is why amidst our school spirit week observations we, the members of Key Club and Builders Club, pause to draw attention to suicide prevention because HOPE restored, is refreshing to our soul and mental status.”
The brief, but solemn observance was facilitated by the Vice Principal and Faculty advisor- Ms. Joanna Trim who reminded students that their mental health is paramount to their ultimate success as a student and leaders in their communities. Key Clubbers and all other supporters were symbolically attired in orange and black. Vice Principal Trim led teachers and students in the following affirmations: “ MY Mental Health Matters; YOUR Mental Health Matters; OUR Mental Health Matters!” Following these chants by students, teachers, and other staffers, orange helium balloons inscribed with inspirational messages were released as a symbol of HOPE with audience members declaring “NO to suicide and YES to LIFE!
After the brief observance, Mental Health Foundation Psychologist –Ms. Emmalexis Velasquez treated members and guests of the school’s Builders Club to an interactive and informative session on the importance of maintaining good mental health. Velasquez emphasized to the group of 12 to 15-year-olds that “suicide prevention is an ‘us’ task…We must take action IMMEDIATELY… It takes everyone in our community– parents, teachers, friends, and community leaders/helpers to win the fight against the incidence of suicide.”
Key Club is an international, student-led organization for high school students in grades 10 through 13, which offers its members opportunities to provide service, build character and develop leadership. Similarly, Builders Club caters to the needs of middle school students in grades 7 to 9 who are budding servant leaders. These clubs exist under the Kiwanis Service Leadership Programs.