To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit organization founded by Jaime Tworkowski in 2006. Their goal is to help those struggling with depression, self-harm, suicide, and addiction. At the Vans Warped Tour I had the great honor of talking with Jason Blades, a TWLOHA representative.
What is your favourite thing about To Write Love On Her Arms?
Jason: Probably just that we get to help so many people across the world, and across the US, and we’re just trying to present this idea that we’re not really anything that’s new, we’re not groundbreaking, just starting a conversation that can resonate with them.
How exactly does Two Write Love On Her Arms work?
I’ll just go over the whole thing. So To Write Love On Her Arms, we’re a non-profit dedicated to presenting hope to people that struggle with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Our message is to encourage and inspire. So what we do is we have all sorts of programs that exist to challenge mental health, to get people plugged in to help, and to invest in the treatment and recovery. So we use merchandise sales, donations, events, things like that.
What sort of programs?
We have high school programs, college programs, we have a benefit program. All of those exist to bring the message of To Write Love On Her Arms or just this idea of hope with mental health issues to communities so that when a smaller local community encounters someone that’s struggling they will be more equipped, and better equipped, to help them properly.
How do you think Warped Tour has made an impact on the organization?
Warped Tour has been amazing for us. This is our eighth consecutive year and we just really feel like home here with all the people on the tour, the kids, the attendees that come. And really just, it’s meant so much to us that we’re able to come to eight hundred to six hundred thousand people and forty to forty-five shows, so it’s just amazing. I don’t think you could ever really get that many people in one place. It’s a different variety, and eclectic group that you can connect with. So I mean I like to call it my favourite.
Do you think Warped Tour has helped expand your target audience?
Yeah. I think for all non-profits they would say it’s helped their demographics, and just their ability to connect with people. And like I said, there are so many different people here, you really can’t put them all in any specific category other than they’re here at Warped Tour, and that’s the beauty of music and a music festival, that it brings together people. And that’s why we love music. So yeah, I would say for all the non-profits here it’s just a really good opportunity to connect with a lot of people that you might not normally have the opportunity to connect with.
How can people get involved?
Like I said we have all those different programs. If you go to our website (twloha.com), on that website there’s a page called “get more involved”, and under that tab there’s like six to eight ways to get involved depending on how much time you have to dedicate, how involved you want to get. We have a high school program, a college program, like I said, benefit concerts that we hold, so we just have all these programs that exist, depending on where you are, it’s all right on our website.
What would you recommend for a typical high schooler?
A typical high schooler could do one of a couple things. We have high schoolers do our story tellers program, which our high school program, which is geared to bringing our message into their school. Then we have the conferences, they can attend the conferences and bring the ideas and thoughts back to their community. We also have an intern program, you have to be eighteen. Or you could join our street team. It takes volunteers from a street team for events like this. Our volunteers at Warped Tour are straight from our street team and you only need to be sixteen.
What is the most memorable story someone has told you?
I get that question a lot and it’s really hard to pick because I think every day we get to hear someone’s story, someone that we helped, or that the organization has helped a friend of theirs. So it’s just really an honor and a privilege that we get to hear that every day. For instance, there was a girl in Cincinnati that came to our tent, and she came to Warped Tour just to stop by our tent to say hi and to donate. And that means she bought a ticket to Warped Tour, so like a forty dollar ticket, then just came here. So we gave her a shirt and some stuff to go home with. But she didn’t care to see any of the music, she just came to say hi. So I mean what this meant to her and her family and her friends, for it to mean that much to someone, that’s such an honor.
Wow. That must feel amazing.
Well that’s why we’re doing this though. So we know that there are people who are struggling or have friends that struggle and we just want to help people.
How do you personally relate to To Write Love On Her Arms?
I got involved in 2009, I was an intern for the organization. And the reason I got involved was more or less me trying to understand how to help. I had friends that struggled, family members, but I didn’t know how to be there for them, even though I wanted to be. So I think that’s what a lot of people go through, just the trouble of “I know I need to help you, I know I need help, but I don’t know how.” And sometimes you might not know the right way. Just being there for someone, that’s what I wanted to do. To be there for my family, so that’s why I initially got connected with the organization.
What is your favourite thing about Warped Tour?
I think the ability to just connect with so many people, it really does feel like family out here. Even though it’s like forty days long with twelve to fourteen hour days, but we have just a really great sense of community out here. I think that’s the best part.
What’s your least favourite thing, other than the heat?
I’d probably just say for someone that’s on the tour, the good definitely trumps the bad that exists. But you don’t get to shower much, you’re away from your family and your friends for a long time, you don’t really have a whole lot of time to stay in contact on the phone. I’m out here all day so it’s not like I can just hop on a phone call. But just missing the simple things; showering, sleeping in your own bed, all the stuff that I take for granted.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I don’t know. I’d like to think I’d still be finding a way to help some people. Because that’s what I want to do. But to be honest I don’t know. I got really lucky and fell into this, and it kind of happened the way it should’ve and it’s better than I could have imagined. But probably trying to help people still.
If you could give one piece of advice to adolescents in general, what would it be?
You know, I would say on behalf of To Write Love On Her Arms I would say if you know someone that’s struggling or if they’re struggling themselves, or if you have issues to address, you don’t have to do it alone. There are people that care for them. Even if they don’t feel like it, they’re not isolated, they don’t have to be alone. Just hop on our website, again twloha.com, we have a “find help” page and we spend a lot of time compiling all the resources on there so that if someone does need help they can find some there, and we’re here to encourage them into those resources. So reach out to us, reach out to a friend, talk to someone, cause you don’t have to be alone. I know that can be the hardest thing for someone to realize.
Say someone wants to get involved but the conferences and benefits aren’t in their city. What would you recommend?
So the high school and the college and all those types of things, those are actually things you can make local. So a lot of the people that do it, bring it into their communities. So if you wanted to start one in your community, you would just sign up on our website, you would have to have certain, you know, certain criteria you have to meet to bring it in to your local community. So there’s no reason that they couldn’t bring it to their community. If they don’t have the ability to, that’s okay. That’s why the street team is probably the best option. The street team is basically online and physical promotion for the organization, then if they do these orders, which could be like posting posters around your city and take photos and send it to us, we end up giving the street teamers free clothes or credit to our online store, and stuff like that. So there’s definitely rewards. I’d say the street team is probably the best step if there’s nothing that exists in your area.
Alright, last question. Spiderman or Batman?
I grew up with Batman and I think that’s why. Nothing against Spiderman, he’s great, but Batman, yeah, I don’t know. I was just always a Batman kid.
There you have it. Jason Blades of To Write Love On Her Arms is a Batman fan. Also, if you or anyone else you know needs help with mental health issues or suicide, go to www.twloha.com-find-help. There are links and phone numbers to let you know you’re not alone and for counseling and other help references. To Write Love On Her Arms is a fantastic organization that I would strongly recommend donating to, and definitely one of my favourites.