There’s not many things that would stop someone from helping their friend in need. Sometimes from the simplest of beginnings and gestures, a great movement is born. Ten years ago, one of the most inspiring movements began with Jamie Tworkowski, who simply wanted to share the story of one of his friends. From selling t-shirts to simply help his friend cover the costs of her treatment center, To Write Love on Her Arms was born.
We got a chance to talk with TWLOHA founder Tworkowski about the success of the movement and how the movement still is very important a decade later.
“We are a nonprofit organization that exists to bring a message of hope and help to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide,” said Tworkowski of TWLOHA. “One thing that is unique about us is that we started as an attempt to help one person and to tell her story back in 2006. There was no thought of starting an organization, charity or movement – it was just an attempt to help my friend Renee [Yohe] to see her stay alive and heal.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB5MnYtD-K8
From the simple beginnings, Tworkowski and the TWLOHA team has traveled with its message to each of the 50 states and to over a hundred other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 350 million people around the world suffer from depression, which is a major contributor to the world’s burden of diseases.
With depression, as well as other issues of addiction, self-injury and potential suicide being such major burdens on people around the world, TWLOHA seeks to bring an end to the stigma when it comes to discussing these problems.
“If you struggle, it’s okay to be honest,” emphasized Tworkowski. “It’s okay to say that out loud and more than anything else, it’s okay to ask for help. These are issues that affect so many people. It needs to be some we need to talk about. We hope we can make it easier for people to talk about these things and realize they are not alone.”
Tworkowski’s mission to share the message of hope doesn’t just help the thousands of lives he’s impacted through the nonprofit; it helps him deal with his own personal struggle with depression.
“I think a lot about my own pain, my own needs for hope and even my own needs for help,” said Tworkowski of his struggle. “In some of the work that we do, it’s me talking to myself as much as it’s me talking to other people.”
Thousands of people have become involved with the movement, from volunteers to others who might have been inspired by TWLOHA so much that it saved their own lives.
“I know people that are still alive because of the work that we do,” said Tworkowski of the people who the organization has helped. “I also meet people who have lost loved ones to addiction and suicide. I’ve met people who are in the middle of a really difficult struggle.”
“Whether you’re hearing the good stuff or the hard stuff, both have a way of reminding us how important this work is,” continued Tworkowski. “I can’t imagine ever getting tired of having those conversations. It’s not like it’s just some hobby or some random topic that I talk about now and then. It feels like privilege that I get to work and I get to talk about things I really believe in.”
After recently celebrating the 10th year of To Write Love On Her Arms, the nonprofit is relaxing for a bit before the next big event which is World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. Until then, TWLOHA should also be making appearances at various summer festivals such as Warped Tour.
For more information about Tworkowski and To Write Love On Her Arms, you can go to their website.