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Active Minds brings 'This is my Brave, The Show' to Ballantyne

Mental health show creates a conversation about advocacy

By David Kepler & Michelle Lindsey
On May 4, 2017

Merrill Miller performs during "This is My Brave,
The Show" in Ballantyne Auditorium on April 22.
Miller is a student at Coe College in Cedar Rapids,
Iowa and is graduating this year. PHOTO BY 

Sixteen people took to the stage in Ballantyne Auditorium at Kirkwood Community College  on April 22 to share their stories with audience members. Those 16 people have all experienced a mental illness. 

Those who attended saw cast members release their pain and their joys by sharing those stories with family, friends and people they’d never met. 

This spring, hours of hard work and preparation went into making, “This is My Brave, The Show” a top-notch performance. 

Cast members rehearsed multiple times, stood in front of their own mirrors at home reciting their piece and repeatedly asked themselves if they were ready to do this.

Active Minds, a national organization with a chapter at Kirkwood Community College, is a mental health advocacy and education group. The chapter put together the show as a way to start a conversation. 

Jessie Crockett, Liberal Arts major, said, “I feel so passionate about mental health awareness because it’s been a big influence in my life.” 

The idea behind the show was to break the stigma of mental health and create a way for people to open up, rather than pretend nothing is wrong. Students from Kirkwood, Coe College and some local high schools participated.

William Townsend, computer science major at
Kirkwood Community College, gives a speech
about overcoming depression and the effects of
autism while juggling the emotions of his mother's
death during his senior year of high school.

Crockett performed a spoken word poem using third person pronouns and spoke about the experience of practicing for the show.  

“Often times when you give advice to someone you don’t really follow it and you’re just kind of there for that person, but the way that I’m writing about this person in my poem, it makes me feel like she’s very strong and that’s reflected on me and how I can be kind of like that person,” said Crockett 

The two co-advisors, Angie Ziesman-Weiler and Julie Prasil, said they worked constantly to ensure that everyone was comfortable on stage and that the show accurately portrayed how different each person’s journey with mental health issues can be. 

During the show, William Townsend, computer science major at Kirkwood, spoke of his relationship with his mother and how her passing during his senior year of high school affected him. 

Townsend ended his emotional speech by saying, “I’m going to give life my best shot, my best attempt. I will not strive for conformity or nine to five. I want to make video games. My mom said I could and I will.”  

At the end of the night, the audience members were asked to stand if they had experienced a mental illness or loved someone who had experienced a mental illness. 

Every person in the auditorium stood. 


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