Centennial High School and the Will to Live Foundation hosts “You Matter” on Feb. 25

Students and parents have the opportunity to engage in “an open and honest conversation about depression and suicide.”

The event is hosted by John Trautwein, Founder of the Will to Live Foundation.

Trautwein started the foundation after losing his 15-year-old son Will to suicide.

Will To Live Foundation focuses on “raising awareness of teen suicide in our communities; increasing education of mental illnesses like depression and their stigmas and delivering hope to teens everywhere through our Life Teammates programs.”

The “Life Teammates Program” aims to teach children to “Recognize Those Life Teammates Now.”

Those teammates are considered “Life Friends.

“They will always there for you and you always there for them, on and off the field,” said the website.

By wearing the Will To Live “Life Teammate” helmet decals and sharing with their opponents, they are also spreading the important message of “love your teammates and you will love the game.”

“Love, home and the importance of recognizing the ‘Life Teammates’ that exist today is “one all CHS families need to hear.”

“Someone we share or have shared a dream with; someone we go through successes and failures with.

According to the Foundation’s website, as of Dec. 1, efforts “have now raised well over $1,000,000 through fun, kid organized events, activities and fundraisers.”

“Willstock” and “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way 5K” are prominent fundraising efforts.

“It’s one of those very rare events, where it’s the teenagers dragging their parents and family members to. The pride these kids take in this event is very special,” said Trautwein.

“Over 50,000 ‘Life Teammate – Love Ya Man’ wristbands and stickers have been distributed to kids, schools, teams and families.

The “Life Teammates” program has sponsored Team Will To Live lacrosse, baseball, soccer teams and tournaments in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, New Hampshire and Philadelphia.

Will To Live Foundation has been “recognized by CNN, CBS, Fox Sports, The Big Ten Network, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune and many other media outlets around the country.”

“We have implemented “Club Will To Live” in over 15 schools in the greater Atlanta area,” said Trautwein.

The Will To Live website is estimated to attract “over 100,000 visitors a month, giving people information on where to go for help, hope, counseling, education, love, support and an increased ‘Will To Live.’”

The “Signs of Suicide” or “SOS” program for well over 2,000 high schools and middle schools across the country was funded by the foundation.

“We are educating the educators and positively effecting well over one million high school and college students around the country as a result,” said Trautwein.

The foundation has also funded efforts for the “Summit On Site” program, “delivered by Summit Counseling Center in Johns Creek where over 25 High Schools and Middle Schools in the North Atlanta area now have licensed therapist on site.”

“Where there's a WILL, there's a way,” said Trautwein.

More information is available at www.will-to-live.org.

Trautwein estimates giving “over 500 speeches and presentations.”

“You Matter” is on Feb. 25 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Centennial High School is at 9310 Scott Road.

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