By: Morgan Bates
Interview with Elizabeth Wilder
Vans Warped Tour/World Suicide Prevention Day 9/10
Growing up my Mom always expressed to both my sister and me that kindness is a way of life and I had always heard the expression “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. So be kind.” Today, on this special day of awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day (9/10,) this expression holds a deeper meaning and carries more weight than just a simple phrase. Over the years the suicides of famous musicians and actors who seemed to have it all have taken over the news, while social media has allowed for a spike in anonymous hatred, and people are more anxious and depressed than ever. I personally have not known anyone fighting anything of this nature but, when I heard about To Write Love On Her Arms I was inspired by the kindness, hope, and love shown by this movement. I got to talk with Elizabeth Wilder at To Write Love On Her Arms about how far the organization has come since it’s start in 2006, her personal experiences with TWLOHA, a moving connection made at Vans Warped Tour, and how we can all help.
The journey of To Write Love On Her Arms was started when founder Jamie Tworkowski set out to help a friend who was struggling with more than addiction. She was having suicidal thoughts, cutting herself and battling severe depression. After spending days with her prior to rehab, selling t-shirts to help pay for her treatment, and later responding to emails and messages all over the world, the non-profit movement To Write Love On Her Arms was born. A cause so admirable and inspirational dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide find a sense of hope and love no matter their circumstances. TWLOHA exists to encourage growth, inform and spread awareness, inspire to find purpose and raise funds to help those in need of treatment.
It turns out that Tworkowski was not the only one with a real passion for spreading awareness about these struggles and helping those who were suffering. Over the past decade, TWLOHA’s positive message of love and hope has been shared on CBS Sunday Morning, Rolling Stone, MSNBC, MTV, NBC Nightly News, US Magazine, Glamour, Yahoo!, The Huffington Post, Elle, and NPR, just to name a few. This amazing publicity along with support from some big name advocates like Hayley Williams, Miley Cyrus, Whitney Port, Jared Padalecki, and Zach Efron has helped the organization tremendously. Together writing letters, raising awareness, and bringing people together with purpose has helped TWLOHA donate over $1.8 million towards treatment and recovery, and they have now answered over 200,000 emails from over 100 countries. All of these incredible acts of love led to Tworkowski’s well deserved MTVU Woodie Award and a $1 million grant from Chase at the first-ever American Giving Awards (AGAs.)
I got the chance to chat with music/events coordinator Elizabeth who shared with me her personal reasons for becoming a part of this remarkable organization. When in middle school, it seemed like a fad to write love on your arms but, as she grew older she began to struggle through some darker times and TWLOHA had helped see her through to brighter days. She later decided to intern for about three months and moved her whole life to Florida to be a part of this admirable organization and has been giving her time and love to them ever since. She has connected with all kinds of people for the past two incredible summers on Vans Warped Tour sparking conversation and making connections with people while already in a positive place to see their favorite bands.
Vans Warped Tour this past summer was a memorable one for her. The atmosphere was hot and fast-paced, and hectic at times but, through all of the chaos she was able to make a connection with someone that really moved her and showed that this movement is impacting peoples lives and making the world a happier place. A young kid came up to the tent asking “is this where I can talk to someone?” Naturally, Elizabeth said “Of Course!” They began talking and he shared his story about being bullied in school and holding onto a feeling of worthlessness. After exchanging stories, showing support, and explaining to him that he did matter, she encouraged him to write into the organization and they would be able to best connect him to resources he deserved. She tells me that when someone walks away from the tent normally, that is our one interaction with them and we can only hope that they do reach out. However in this instance, Elizabeth received an uplifting email the very next day from the director letting her know that she got a message from a young kid that said a nice lady at warped tour yesterday told him to reach out and that the TWLOHA could help him. She described that moment as moving and amazing to know that the words she spoke with him instilled some sort of hope and was happy that he did take those steps he needed to get that help.
You may be wondering.. How can I help? I’m no celebrity, I don’t know anyone personally struggling in this way, I can’t host an event.. Whatever the reason, don’t worry! We can all help out! Whether you simply decide to rock a TWLOHA t-shirt or place a sticker on your cooler, this can encourage conversation about awareness and leading someone to the website. There is also a new campaign this year called TWLOHA Blue, which is a new donor campaign that started at the beginning of summer allowing supporters to donate as little as $5.00 monthly to continue to provide resources to spread the message, challenge stigma, provide counseling, and allow in person connections at events.
“We’re so very grateful and we don’t take anything for granted because each lending hand helps so many people.” – Elizabeth Wilder
One word that continuously popped up while researching To Write Love On Her Arms and this interview was LOVE. Something I think we could all agree, this world needs alot more of. Which brings me back to being kind and not knowing what others are going through or what inner demons they may be battling. We can show kindness and love by keeping in mind what our Mom told us growing up and embracing all the love that To Wrote Love On Her Arms and people like Jamie Tworkowski and Elizabeth Wilder are sharing with the world each and everyday. Then together, we can prove that love is the most powerful force on the planet and love has the power to change, and love is the real movement.
Everyone’s story is important. If you are struggling or know someone who could benefit from the great cause, you are encouraged to reach out and write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each email is responded to no matter the situation or circumstance. You are important and loved!
Be sure to use the hashtag #iwasmadefor for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day campaign with To Write Love On Her Arms on 9/10
To find out more about this movement be sure to check out their website
Also be sure to follow them on social media!
Instagram & Twitter: @twloha