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Written by Sharon Kendall Dunn   
Monday, 05 February 2007 14:58
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Miss Scott County, Emily Slavens Partners with NAMI Scott County on Depression Platform

Image About a month ago, a little girl came up to me and said, “I was you for Halloween last year.”  I said, “Oh, really?  What were you?”  “I was Miss America,” the little girl smiled.  I was not really Miss America, but I was crowned Miss Scott County and at that moment in time, I knew I had the opportunity to make a difference in many peoples’ lives. 

            It was very exciting for me to be crowned Miss Scott County and it has opened many doors in my life.  Not only do I have the opportunity to compete in the Miss Iowa Scholarship Pageant, but I also have a very important job in my community to communicate the importance of my platform on depression.  As Miss Scott County and as a freshman student at the University of Iowa, I have many obligations, but I feel the most imperative role I have is to promote my Depression Education platform.  As Miss Scott County, I will have the opportunity to try to educate and touch as many people’s lives as possible. 

           

Presently, to promote my platform, I’ve been keeping busy by visiting middle schools, high schools, and churches to educate people of all ages about depression.  I explain my four main topics of interest, which include understanding, symptoms, treatment, and finally living day by day, as well as talking about suicide prevention. 

           

It’s very  fulfilling to walk out of a classroom knowing I made an impact on someone’s life.  The most amazing feeling so far this year, has been having students of all ages raise their hand in anticipation to ask questions based on my presentation.  These kids are listening to every word and are actually thinking about my platform and it confirms that I really am touching lives as Miss Scott County.  It can sometimes be difficult to ask questions about sensitive topics such as depression, but it’s important to talk about my platform since depression affects so many people, including middle and high school students.  It’s very satisfying to know that I am doing something to help others in my community.     

           

In addition to educating people about depression, I’ve also recently had the opportunity to partner with the local chapter of a national organization called NAMI.. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is the largest grassroots organization dedicated to providing education, support and advocacy to those with mental illness and their family members.  I chose to link my platform on depression with NAMI Scott County because of their diligent work of  promoting public awareness about mental health through local education, support and advocacy programs. For example, NAMI has programs such as Family-to-Family, which is a 12 week course designed for family members who are in a care giving role for a family member with a mental health issue,  Peer-to-Peer, which is a 9 week course designed for individuals who live with mental illness and Visions for Tomorrow , which is a 10 week course designed for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents with mental illness.  All of these programs are offered free.  NAMI  provides monthly education meetings and facilitates 3 separate support  groups for family members, individuals living with mental illness (consumers) and also for caregivers of children with mental illness.

           

 NAMI’s largest advocacy event is called the NAMIWalks. The 4th annual NAMIWalks Kick-Off Luncheon is Saturday, March 24th and I am thrilled to say that I have been invited to be one of their featured speakers this year to further promote my platform on depression.   I hope you will join me and many others in your community for the luncheon and also on the 3.1 mile Walk around Credit Island Park, Davenport on Saturday, May 5th.  Join me and NAMI to help empower those with mental illness towards recovery.

 

For more information about Miss Scott County, go www.missiowa.com/scottcounty

For more information about NAMI Scott County, go to www.namiscottcounty.org