The Edmond Sun

January 23, 2013

Stars shine for a good cause: BeEdmond

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Yankees minor league pitcher Ty Hensley, pop singing sensation Greyson Chance, actress Kristin Chenoweth, filmmaker Bunee Tomlinson and Edmond Family Counseling all have one thing in common — BeEdmond.

Edmond Family Counseling, which has a 39-year history of helping the community address all areas of mental health, is developing BeEdmond, a community outreach that involves creating an app, website (www.beedmond.com) and public service announcements that seek to connect teens and young adults with resources, said Kathy Matthews, the agency’s communications and development coordinator.

The project was inspired by the 13 suicides that jolted the city last year, Matthews said. Several victims were teenagers. Edmond Family Counseling joined a community suicide prevention task force which has been working to address the issue.

A goal of BeEdmond is to meet youth where they are and that includes their cell phones and the Internet, Matthews said. The app and website will help bridge the gap between isolation and resources, she said.

BeEdmond encourages youth to: Be safe, be smart, be helpful, be mobile, be connected and be healthy. Matthews said each of these areas will help connect individuals to local resources.

Tomlinson, Freestyle Productions and Red Chair Productions donated their time to produce the public service announcement, viewable at www.beedmond.com. An Edmond Family Counseling staff person wrote the script.

The PSA features Hensley, who starred at Santa Fe High School before he was a first-round draft pick by the Yankees in 2012, Edmond Mayor Charles Lamb and several youth representing their peers.

“If you watch it, everyone finds something there to connect with,” Matthews said. “It’s a message of hope and empowerment.”

Tomlinson, who has made short films on topics such as bullying and domestic violence, said Matthews was aware of his work and she invited him to a meeting to discuss the agency’s projects.

Tomlinson is a graduate of Edmond Memorial High School, which was touched by tragedy in 2012. Tomlinson said the deaths emphasized the need for a place where troubled youth could turn that is outside of influences that may keep them from seeking help.

“By having a starting point, I believe more kids in distressed could be steered toward the help of family, friends and professionals who could help work through the problems,” he said. “Hopefully, young people will also see the importance of having specific goals.”

Hensley, who is now 19 and working with his trainer and other professional athletes during the off-season, said he wanted to be a part of BeEdmond because he has seen the impact of suicide.

Hensley said he wanted to help get the message across to youth because he can relate to a lot of them. Suicide is a serious problem everywhere and youth need to know that there is help and people will listen, Hensley said.

“The quicker we can get this app going the quicker we get to saving more lives and greatly decreasing the amount of teen suicides,” he said. “Hopefully one day there won’t be any. That’s why I wanted to get involved.”

Matthews said a great help in spreading the word about BeEdmond has been celebrity tweets on the Internet. Hensley, several Yankee bloggers, Chance — an Edmond native — and Chenoweth — an Oklahoma native — are among those who have helped spread the word via social network, she said.

Edmond Family Counseling’s board of directors funded the PSA out of a passion for helping youth and the community, Matthews said. The agency needs $40,000 to develop the BeEdmond app and website. All donations will exclusively support this effort and are tax-deductible.

For individuals or organizations that would like to contribute by mail, checks can be sent to: Edmond Family Counseling, 1251 N. Broadway, Ste. C, Edmond, OK 73034. Specify “BeEdmond” in memo. For more information about the project, call the agency at 213-0644.

For assistance with mental health issues, call 211, HeartLine’s 24/7 information and referral line for health and human service needs. Callers can get help, hope and information from a database of more than 3,000 partner agencies and 6,000 individual services. Another resource is 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a helpline answered by HeartLine. For immediate help, call 911.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108