'Don’t Give Up' movement comes to Huron County

Cary Ashby • Sep 28, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Sydney Eddy, an advocate for mental health awareness, has brought the “Don’t Give Up” movement to Huron County.

“This project entails setting up signs around Huron County which display messages of hope for those struggling with mental health issues. The goal of the movement is to remind people that they are not alone and to offer hope and inspiration to those who are struggling,” said Kristen Cardone, executive director of the Huron County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS).

The MHAS board has partnered with Eddy to promote and increase the reach of the movement, with the goal of expanding the project throughout the county. Eddy estimated there have been about 200 signs in various yards since July.

“It started because I struggle with a mental illness. I know what it’s like to be in that fragile state of mind,” said the 2014 Norwalk High School graduate.

The original “Don’t Give Up” movement began May 13, 2017, in Newberg, Oregon with resident Amy Wolff and her two young daughters. Wolff, on the www.dontgiveupsigns.com website, said strangers “didn’t hesitate” when her family asked them if they could place signs in their yards for two weeks. The movement has been a non-profit organization since the fall of 2018.

“Friends, let’s not underestimate the power of simple, kind words at the right place and at the right time for the right person. Let’s not wait for someone more qualified or less broken to spread hope and love. Life is messy, but we’re in this together,” Wolff wrote on the website.

Eddy said it’s “important for people to know they’re not alone.” 

The signs have been in all 50 states, 26 countries and in six languages, according to Don’t Give Up.

In the Norwalk area, Eddy said she has received a “very positive reaction” to the signs — both from people who have seen them and expressed their support.

“Most of them said they make a positive impact on their life or it brightens their day when they drive by,” she added.

About one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year and about one in five youths aged 13 to 18 experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their life, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

“Please help us spread positivity around our communities; you never know who may need to see it,” Cardone said.

Signs are available free of charge at the Huron County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services office, 12 Benedict Ave. They may be picked up from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays.