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Spread the love for TWLOHA week

When schoolwork, extracurricular activities and high school drama overload a student's system, some teenagers reach for a yoga mat to calm down (well, a book or something). They create a healthy way to deal with the stress of everyday life.

While these teenagers are relaxing in bubble baths, some teens struggle and reach for a keg of beer, bottles of pills, a plastic baggy full of drugs or a razor blade. They get high or drunk to forget, or they create physical pain to balance the emotional pain they have trouble expressing. At only 19 years old, Renee Yohe of Florida was suffering from self-harm, depression, addiction and suicidal thoughts/attempts.

A nonprofit organization called To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) began to help her. Jamie Tworkowski started TWLOHA after he and other friends became a place for Yohe to turn after she was denied entry into a treatment center. TWLOHA became her rehab and her hope. They guided her through her eventual rehab stay and supported her healing. Currently, Yohe has finished her rehabilitation, but she will have to fight her old addictions for the rest of her life.

It seems that more teens these days are turning to drugs and self-mutilation to rid themselves of their depression and stress. Go to www.twloha.com and check out the facts page to view the jaw-dropping statistics.

Now, To Write Love on Her Arms is there for others who seek the same guidance and hope, hoping to show people who suffering from addiction or depression (self-mutilators and suicide risks) that they can heal and that they are loved. Starting today, celebrate TWLOHA for a week and also on TWLOHA Day on Nov. 13 by writing "love" on your arms. Another way to support the organization is to buy T-shirts or other items with the TWLOHA logo at Hot Topic or Zumiez. People who have been seen sporting TWLOHA merchandise are Hayley Williams from Paramore, Deon Rexroat of Anberlin and Brendon Urie from Panic at the Disco. Other known supporters are the bands Skylit Drive, Underoath, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Between the Trees.

Get a clear idea about what TWLOHA stands for by checking out a Skylit Drive's music video for "This Isn't The End." The people holding the signs didn't get paid for their contributions, they volunteered their stories to give hope to others also struggling with addictions.

Emily Steves is a junior at Gowanda.

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