ALIVE! 2018 was a massive success as we celebrated the contributions and amplified the voices of all of our youth participants. This year, we were so proud to feature Belle Cole, Melissa Modifer, and Express Yourself youth in an original collaborative piece for the show. Belle originally came to Express Yourself in 2017 as a youth participant and returned to collaborate with us this year as the founder of her own nonprofit, 13 Reasons to Fly.
“I want to live in a world where I am not ashamed of a chemical imbalance in my brain. I am sharing my story with others so they will be in inspired to tell theirs. Let’s blaze a new trail.”
Belle was the center of an artistic collaboration entitled FLY that create a performance piece incorporating an original song by Melissa Modifer and dance choreographed by Jeff Shade that illustrated her message. Behind the dancers was a large set of wings with individual feathers created by youth in residential and intensive treatment programs as well as youth in the studio setting.
Belle hopes to propose an opposite idea from the popular novel and Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why – reasons to choose life and hold on to hope. Her mission is to spread positivity, raise awareness, support people affected by mental illness, and educate others regarding mental illness.
Her 13 Reasons to Fly is a peer to peer organization focused on shifting how society thinks about mental illness and suicide.
Photo by Roger Farrington