Topic: College of Communication Information and Media
April 10, 2015
Ball State students have spent the semester partnering with The Facing Project to give voice to Muncie residents living with depression. The public will get a chance to hear the first-person stories of hope and pain at a community read at 7 p.m. April 23 at Muncie Civic Theatre.
Journalism students worked with storytellers, who could be people with depression, their relatives, mental health professionals and others affected by the illness. Their stories were captured in a series of interviews from which the students crafted first-person perspectives about the lives of each participant.
"This has been an important project for my students because there's still a stigma associated with mental illness, particularly depression," said Adam Kuban, the journalism professor overseeing Facing Depression in East Central Indiana. "We've designed this experience to inform and educate, and for storytellers, that can be empowering. Students may not realize they or someone they know struggles with depression, and this experience has given them a platform to understand how to help — or to learn how to get help."
Facing Depression in East Central Indiana was developed under the umbrella of The Facing Project, a national organization created in 2012 by local writers Kelsey Timmerman and J.R. Jamison. The two provide tools and a platform to assist writers, artists, and actors nationwide in telling the stories of its citizens. To date, 21 communities have participated, resulting in 16 books centered on issues such as autism, addiction and poverty.
This year's partnership culminates with the April 23 community read. There, the students will join their storytellers for live performances of the stories, which have been published in a book to be given out as a way to spark campus-community dialogue about depression.
"It was very different from writing for a newspaper or anything else I've done," said freshman journalism major Sophie Gordon.
All 14 students involved are Louis E. Ingelhart Scholars, an elite group of freshmen and sophomores who demonstrate journalistic passion and leadership potential. "Their motivation to see this project through has inspired me," Kuban said.
Graduate assistant Sara Nahrwold said she too is proud of how well the students have tackled coverage of such a tough issue. "It's exciting we're doing this, because depression is a topic that's not been written or talked about as much as it should be," she said. "We're starting an important conversation in the community, and that's an honor for us all."