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Encouraging signs in Stoneleigh for trying times

Residents in Stoneleigh have taken to placing signs with simple messages on their lawn in association with National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Residents in Stoneleigh have taken to placing signs with simple messages on their lawn in association with National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. (Stacey Feagans)

Have you seen the signs? “Don’t Give Up” … “You Are Worthy of Love” … “Your Mistakes Do Not Define You” … “One Day at a Time” … “You Matter” … and others.

The simple phrases in plain black text on white yard signs began popping up around Stoneleigh at the end of August. The messages speak to a variety of people for all kinds of reasons. And for some, they might strike a chord that makes all the difference.

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Why are the messages vague? They actually draw more attention. People worry that they missed something. They get curious. They ask neighbors. They prompt important conversations. The campaign is particularly relevant because September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

In the Stoneleigh neighborhood, the sign campaign was launched by resident Stacey Feagans. “I first saw the signs myself as we passed through a town in Ohio,” Feagans said. “I knew it would be something positive our community would embrace.”

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Upon returning from her family road trip, Feagans texted her friend and neighbor Mary Levinson to pitch the idea of bringing the signs to Stoneleigh.

“Stacey said, ‘Mary, would you be interested in putting a sign like this in your yard? We just drove through Madeira and I nearly cried. Yards had signs saying, “You’re Enough,” “You’re Not Alone.” This is a message that really speaks to me and touches my soul, and I know it will speak to you too,'" Levinson recounted.

“My response was, ‘I love this. I am in. We should get the entire street to do it since we have a million walkers who walk to school on our street. What an amazing way for all of these kids to start their day.’ And so it began.”

The duo bought 24 signs to start, and before long, there were signs at every house between them, spreading encouragement and positivity.

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The original campaign (dontgiveupsigns.com) was initiated in 2017 by Amy Wolff in Oregon, in response to the rising teen suicide rate in her town. Wolff believed that seeing signs (literally) that people care could make a difference in the heart of even one child at risk.

So she got signs, knocked on doors and created a community that demonstrated love and positivity.

“In the same way that this spread in Oregon, right here in Stoneleigh, as we started putting up signs, we began seeing the impact,” Levinson said. “Suddenly, people were knocking on our doors. They asked for signs, wanted to know the story behind the message and wanted to be a part of it. Within three days, there were more than 50 signs and people reaching out to ask for their own.

"Every day we’ve been stopped by people walking by who’ve shared their stories, given hugs or told us how the signs have moved them. We’ve seen so many smiles on the faces of children, teens and adults. Kindness can be contagious, and as easy as putting a sign in your yard.”

Some days, we all need reminders that we are valued. Other days, we need reminders to check in on one another, as we never know the burdens people carry. It warrants sharing: The National Suicide Prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.

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