Art that walks the walk

Tony Knoderer | May 25, 2022

Grayslake Shoes

In Grayslake, Illinois, the Grayslake Central High School Key Club teamed up with the local Kiwanis club in May to shine a light on mental health — and to battle the stigma against mental illness. As a way of observing Mental Health Month, the clubs jointly created “You Never Walk Alone” to foster understanding of mental health issues.   

With the support of the Grayslake Kiwanis Club, Key Club member Lia Dirks spearheaded the project, which encouraged fellow students at Grayslake Central to support the “walking” theme by decorating and then submitting shoes along with brief messages.  

Their artwork was exhibited at the Grayslake Arts Alliance Showcase on May 7, during the Mayfest celebration at the Grayslake Heritage Center and Museum. The exhibit then moved to This Old Book, an independent bookstore in town, for two weeks.

Signage for the exhibit pointed out that mental health is an “equal-opportunity” issue, affecting 1 in 5 Americans, regardless of age, race or religion. But the project also served as a forum for young people to share their experiences and express their support for others.

By inviting attendees to “walk with these students through their mental health journey,” the exhibit gave them a chance to see young people’s creativity in service of both public awareness and personal empathy.  


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