Connect, Support and Enable Internationals to Adapt and Thrive in Shanghai
By Ethan Polatajko
Wellington International School Student
Do you have an old shirt? Some paint lying around the place? The CCS Teen Mental Health Advocates invite you to pick them up and take part in the CCS Clothesline Project!
What is the CCS Clothesline Project?
The CCS Clothesline Project is a mental health awareness initiative for our international community here in Shanghai, spearheaded by a group of passionate CCS Teen Mental Health Advocates. The CCS Clothesline consists of a collection of t-shirts, all hand-painted with messages relating to mental health. The CCS Clothesline will travel around Shanghai to be displayed at various schools, organizations, and businesses and the community is invited to add t-shirts to make this a living, growing collection.
What is the purpose of this project, other than to have fun and paint on old clothes?
To raise awareness that mental health impacts everyone
To help break the stigma and silence around mental health
To celebrate and recognise the strength of each person behind each mental health diagnosis
The CCS Clothesline Project is the perfect opportunity for the international community of Shanghai to come together and make an impact and break the silence about an aspect of life we all experience – mental health.
How did the idea of the Clothesline Project come about?
In 1990, in the small village of Hyannis, Massachusetts,the Cape Cod Women’s Agenda hung a clothesline across the village green with 31 shirts, all designed by survivors of assault, rape, and child sexual abuse. As time went by, many others were inspired by the powerful messages and cameforward creating and adding their own shirts to the line so that it became a growing collection. From there, the idea spread and people in other locations were inspired to make similar clotheslines. From a small village in Massachusetts, with a population of 16,000 people, the original initiative has now grown to over 300 Clothesline Projects all over the globe with more than 35,000 shirts in total. Crazy!!
The original Clothesline Project placed a human face on the statistic of violence and abuse. It and subsequent other Clothesline Projects serve many valuable purposes - they raise awareness of the impact of violence on individuals and communities, allow celebrations of the strength of survivors, and provides a way for survivors to break the silence. What is great about these projects is that regardless of the distance someone is from the clothesline itself, they will be impacted. Whether standing afar and seeing the myriad of colors of the shirts reflecting the sheer magnitude and commitment of the community or getting up close and reading the message painted on each shirt, no passer-by will be left unaffected.
The CCS Teen Advocates were introduced to the idea of the project by CCS Volunteer Tonye Stuurman who shared her personal story with the teens and told them about the Clothesline Project she initiated in South Africa over 20 years ago. That clothesline was aimed at raising awareness of violence against women and children in an artistic and inexpensive way. From this incredible act of advocacy years ago and far way, the CCS Teen Mental Health Advocates were inspired to create a clothesline now here in Shanghai, this one focused on mental health issues. So, the Clothesline Project has now made its way to Shanghai and you are all invited to be part of it!
How can you get involved?
Shirts can be made by ANYONE – a survivor of mental health issues, a supporter of a survivor, or any caring individual who wants to help spread the message. The CCS Teen Advocates have set a challenge for ourselves to see if our community can have 500 t-shirts in the collection by the end of this year. We’ll need your help to achieve this goal! So what are you waiting for? Don’t hesitate to join in and raise awareness! Get an old shirt, find some paint, and let your hidden artistic passion come to life!
For more information about how you can add your t-shirt to the collection or have the CCS Clothesline displayed at your school, business, or organization, email Director of Counseling, Carrie Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or WeChat: CCS-counseling.