CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Editor's note: the video above briefly touches on a discussion of self-harm. While nothing graphic is shared, viewer discretion is advised.
A DJ with turntables and subwoofers blaring the latest hip-hop hits made the atmosphere inside the Rocky River High School gym look and sound like a party, but the message from the hosts came with a much heavier lesson for the teenagers on Thursday.
“They have so much ahead of them its even more imperative to give back to them and show them there is help out here,” said Chewy Torres, a Charlotte-area radio personality and philanthropist.
For several years Torres has taken his show on tour at select Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools campuses -- often inviting up-and-coming artists to perform -- with the sole purpose of leaving students with important lessons.
Chewy's guests on Thursday included Washington Commanders wide receiver and West Mecklenburg High School alum Dyami Brown, Atlanta-based R&B singer T-Royal, and Philadelphia-based rapper 2Rare. Lexus Wilson, a Senior Communication Specialist with American Airlines, was also a guest along with WCNC Charlotte anchor Fred Shropshire. The group shared personal stories focused on mental health and the importance of reaching out for help when needed.
”I fought depression, I fought anxiety. And just trying to give them hope, if I was able to get over it I think they will too,” torres explained.
Speakers visited seven CMS campuses:
- Garinger High School
- Mallard Creek High School
- Rocky River High School
- Eastway Middle School
- Butler High School
- Independence High School
- Olympic High School
For these students, the lesson was powerful.
“Having people here to show us mental health is important reminds us that we are not alone," said Mallard Creek senior Kendra Mauney, "especially with high school being such a developmental time for teenagers.”
“It means a lot that they are taking time out of their day to come to this school out of all the schools in Charlotte to speak a word with us," said Garinger senior Solomon Barker.
“I feel like it’s very important because as a school we all have to be together and be there for your classmates," said Garinger senior Milania McGill, "because we all go through the same journey here
And the staff was glad for the support as well.
"It’s important because, to see other personalities and celebrities take pride in metal health -- that it affects everyone," said Garinger principal LeDuan Pratt.
Jennifer Dean, Mallard Creek High School's principal, agreed.
"People coming out that our students can connect to talk about some hard topics, like your mental health," she said.
Contact Fred Shropshire at email@example.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here.