Foster Atwood remains a prominent part of the United Township High School and the community.
He died of suicide in 2017 but hasn’t been forgotten.
Students remember him by addressing some important but challenging topics.
About 30 students showed up Thursday morning at 7 a.m. for the monthly meeting of the school’s Suicide Prevention and Awareness Club.
They held their first meeting in December as an extension of the Foster’s Voice organization.
Foster’s parents Kevin and Jamie Atwood told Local Four News they’ve been looking at the idea of high school clubs from almost a year.
They said talking with students and staff revealed this was a resource the young adults wanted after feeling the impact and seeking to address this epidemic.
Senior and founding member Joey Coronado said, “We’ll make a change.”
The hardwood at United Township High School is the gathering point.
Junior Adriana Bomen said, “It could happen to anyone.”
Senior Delaney Battin said, “Right, like it could be your friend, you never know.”
These students are in the process of creating an assignment for themselves.
Coronado said, “Every high schooler, I don’t care where you’re from, where you’re at in the country goes through stress. I mean, school is hard. School is really hard, so I think people need to have that gateway.”
Seniors Joey Coronado and Cody Dorn might be counting down to graduation but want to get the ball rolling on something for themselves and other students to break the stigma and talk about suicide, depression and anxiety.
Senior and founding member Cody Dorn said, “Kind of spread the word on mental health and I want more schools to accomplish like what we’re doing right now.”
The two are working with Kevin and Jamie Atwood looking to grow on the mission of Foster’s Voice.
Foster’s Voice Kevin Atwood said, “Both believe that talking about issues like this doesn’t create the problem, it helps to solve the problem.”
And there’s no better place to start than Foster’s school.
Kevin Atwood said, “To us, they [students] are Foster. They walked the same halls that he walked, they have the same teachers that he had.”
It’s where Foster is very much part of the academia.
Coronado said, “Everyday I at least see one Foster’s Voice t-shirt.”
There are two main goals for the Atwoods: teaching how to care for one’s own mental health and how to be there for family, friends or strangers.
Senior Caylee King said, “Giving us like the tools and like the resources to help others and understand how to help.”
“They have the power within themselves to make the is needed, so desperately, to battle this epidemic and if we can give them the tools,” said Kevin Atwood.
While providing the Atwoods a powerful gift.
Kevin Atwood said, “There’s still joy as a parent when your son prospers even though he’s not here with you.”
The plan is to have speakers and experts come to the monthly meeting to teach students about mental health and suicide including information on warning signs and what resources they can use to help others.
The club is also working to provide additional resources and tools to help students in the school.
For the founders, the hope is to see it grow to reach more students.
“It’s awesome, just to show their dedication and to show that they actually care, and they also want to make a change with us. Not a lot of people can get up at seven a.m. I know it was hard for me, but I’m just happy to see a bigger turn out than last time,” said Coronado.
The Atwoods said the plan is to form these clubs at other area high schools.