The Boulder Dance for Life fundraising event was held on May 17 to raise money to bring the acclaimed Second Wind youth suicide prevention program to Boulder, Colorado. The event was created in Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program by Adam Johnson, who saw a need to bring the program, created by Jeff Lamontagne, to his home town. Second Wind and the Boulder Dance for Life were the subject a feature story in Boulder Weekly. Excerpts of the story appear below.
The Second Wind Fund gives depressed teens another chance at happiness and life
by Pamela White
Far from a one-time church fund-raiser, Second Wind is now one of the largest mental-health providers for teens in the state. It has no religious affiliation beyond its history, and participating families and teens are not required to be of any given faith.
Lamontagne says he has no doubt that Second Wind works and that the program has saved lives. Since 2003, the program has helped 1,200 teens — and all are still alive.
“We receive feedback from school counselors and parents time to time saying, ‘If not for your program, I really think this kid would have attempted suicide,’” he says.
The kids themselves report that the therapy they received through Second Wind was essential for their recovery.
But the biggest indication that the program works is that indisputable fact that in counties where Second Wind is active, the teen suicide rate has declined.
“We have resources,” says Kathy Valentine, chairperson of the HOPE Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that raises awareness about depression and suicide. “What we don’t have is The Second Wind Fund.”Until recently, Second Wind offered some funding to Boulder youth through Compass House, a nonprofit that closed its doors in January. Since then, there has been no Second Wind affiliate in Boulder.
Valentine says the HOPE Coalition is exploring the possibility of becoming a Second Wind affiliate, but cautions nothing has been decided yet.
“It’s a program that other communities are taking full advantage of that we just aren’t,” Valentine says. “We’re in the process of looking to see if we can find a person who has the interest, the passion and the time to step forward and volunteer to start the program.”
As fate would have it, they’re getting a bit of unexpected help.
Adam Johnson, 25, graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to Boulder after having seen the town during a college trip. Currently enrolled in a course on creating community service projects through Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program, Johnson was searching for a cause to support and stumbled across the March 2008 report about depression and suicide in Colorado. He did a bit of additional research and discovered The Second Wind Fund. After speaking with Lamontagne, he decided to raise money to help bring the program back to Boulder.
“The goal is to restore that service to this community,” Johnson says.
The event, slated for Saturday, May 17, is titled “The Boulder Dance for Life,” and will be held at Café Babu, on the corner of University Avenue and Broadway. The event will feature a silent auction with a Nepalese buffet from 7 to 9 p.m. for $10 and then a night of music and dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with DJ Bios a ic, DJ Bahiya and Serpent Moon Belly Dance, also $10. For those who truly love to dance, Buddha Bomb will keep the music going from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., also for $10. The proceeds go to The Second Wind Fund for use specifically in Boulder.
Lamontagne, an environmental lawyer by training, would love to see Boulder County with its own full-blown Second Wind affiliate and hopes those with the skills and interest will step forward to make it happen.
“I definitely never thought I’d get into teen suicide prevention, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “Frankly, I feel blessed. It’s not everyone who stumbles into a situation where they feel their work will save young lives, but that’s what we’re able to do.”