Valley Journal
Valley Journal

This Week’s e-Edition

Current Events

Latest Headlines

What's New?

Send us your news items.

NOTE: All submissions are subject to our Submission Guidelines.

Announcement Forms

Use these forms to send us announcements.

Birth Announcement

Shodair contest provides scholarships, messages of hope

Hey savvy news reader! Thanks for choosing local. You are now reading
1 of 3 free articles.

Subscribe now to stay in the know!

Already a subscriber? Login now

News from Shodair Children’s Hospital 

HELENA — For a second year, Shodair Children’s Hospital’s scholarship contest offers students an opportunity to open up about their mental health struggles and in the process break down some of the stigma surrounding these illnesses. Ellen Livers, director of government relations for Shodair Hospital said that “In a two-year period, Helena High School experiences six student suicides and this became an issue for the community.” She explained Shodair was willing to do anything to raise awareness around this really important issue and came up with the idea of a scholarship contest. 

During the first year only Helena students were invited to participate in the contest and 25 students responded with written essays. This year the contest has expanded and allows for students throughout Montana to participate. Further expansion of the project states that students may choose one of three options when making a submission: a written essay, a video or an artistic representation. This year $10K in scholarships will be awarded.

Livers said there is no hard evidence of this approach working but positive outcomes have been seen. Livers said that Bella Nyman, the 2020 Champion for Shodair and also the National Champion for Children’s Miracle Network, is one such example. Nyman wants others to know that it’s okay to ask for help. She did not believe she would live to see 8th grade but Shodair helped to save her life. You can listen to Nyman tells some of her story on the Shodair website:

Unemployment, layoffs, change of income, isolation, social distancing and more are all unfortunate outcomes of COVID-19. Challenges such as these can take a toll on a person’s mental health. Based on the trends seen in past recessions, researchers at “Everytown” estimate this economic downturn could lead to a 20 to 30 percent increase in the number of lives lost to suicide in the United States in 2020: an additional 5,000 to 7,000 lives. According to Montana DPHHS, over the past 10 years, suicide has already been the number two cause of death for children ages 10-14, adolescents ages 15-24 and adults ages 25-44 in Montana. Tracie Kenyon, president and CEO of Montana’s Credit Unions said, “Our Montana youth need to know that they are not alone, and we are proud to join Shodair’s efforts to provide hope and uplift our community to fight this epidemic affecting our young people in Montana.”

This unique contest encourages students around Montana to creatively express their message of hope to others around the state who may be struggling with their mental health and battling suicidal thoughts during this pandemic. This statewide initiative is providing students in rural areas throughout Montana the opportunity for scholarship funds that they may not have easy access to otherwise. Submissions will be accepted through Sept. 17. September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. 

The theme for the contest is: COVID 19 has us all wearing masks, but many of us are wearing a different kind of mask. What kind of mask are you hiding behind and what can we do to help others remove any shame associated with mental illness?

To be eligible, all participants must be between the ages of 13 and 18 and enrolled in a public school, private school or home school in Montana. Applications must be submitted to: by 11:59 p.m. MDT on Tuesday, Sept. 15. After the entry process closes, each submission will be thoroughly reviewed by a panel and judged based on the level of messaging, how impactful the piece is and the project’s creativity. Scholarship winners will be announced Sunday, Sept. 27.

Submission guidelines:

—  Written: Write your message in a 500 word or less essay

—  Video: Share your message with us in a three minute or less video in an mp4 format

—  Visual: Show us your message through the artistic medium of your choosing (e.g., sculpture, painting, drawing) Note: For visual entries, please contact Alana Listoe at 406-444-7561.

Organizations throughout the state have stepped up to support Shodair in this initiative including: Montana’s Credit Unions, Ace Hardware, Helena Independent Record, Montana Hospital Association, Montana Office of Public Instruction, Montana Newspaper Association, Yellowstone Insurance Exchange, 1st Interstate Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, Sullivan Financial Agency, and Beth & Martin Lewis of Wells Fargo Wealth Advisors.



Sponsored by: