GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Wake Up Project founder, Vincent Giardino of Mays Landing, recently presented a $3,000 check to representatives of the Stockton Foundation and the campus chapter of Active Minds to help support student mental health.
“We know people are out there suffering, even if they look good on the outside,” Assistant Director of Counseling Services Nathan Morell said. “We are reaching out and bringing services to them and building a community where people feel safe reaching out.”
Active Minds focuses on mental health awareness, education and advocacy on issues that affect college students.
Stockton offers mental health programs and support groups throughout the academic year. Morell said more than 25 events are being held during the fall semester and more than 1,000 students have been screened for suicide prevention since September.
Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said he was honored and thrilled that a young Stockton alumnus was giving back to the university. Stockton Foundation Chair Donna Buzby thanked Giardino for supporting such a valuable service for students.
The Wake Up Project was founded to honor the memory of local resident Cole Rocap who tragically took his own life in 2016 at the age of 14. The mission of The Wake Up Project, according to the organization’s website, is to create “an open environment for people to speak up about suicide and mental illness while feeling safe about it.”
The funds presented come from the proceeds from The Wake Up Project’s Charity Wakeboard Competition and Food Truck Festival in July will help support suicide prevention and mental health awareness at Stockton University. Members of the Active Minds group had volunteered at the charity event in July.
Giardino, a 2018 graduate of Stockton, said his own life has been touched by suicide and it made him realize that more awareness is needed to identify and help people at risk.
“People are not doing enough, or they don’t know what to do,” Giardino said. “We have to get rid of the stigma so people are not afraid to ask for help.”
For more information about the Wake Up Project, visit their website at https://thewakeupp.com/.