Yellow 4 James Club Battles Stigmas Surrounding Mental Illness

During+2019%2C+the+Yellow+4+James+Club+volunteered+alongside+the+James+Henry+Ransom+Foundation+for+a+5k+run+to+raise+money+for+mental+health.

Photo Courtesy of Lillie Ransom

During 2019, the Yellow 4 James Club volunteered alongside the James Henry Ransom Foundation for a 5k run to raise money for mental health.

Gabby Laurente, Managing Editor

The Yellow 4 James club has dedicated itself to battling stigmas surrounding mental illness after the suicide of James Henry Ransom at the age of thirteen. The club was formed by sophomore Lillie Ransom, James’ sister, and her friends in order to raise awareness for those who are struggling and provide a safe space for students to discuss their personal battles.

After the loss of James in 2016, the Ransom family started the James Henry Ransom Foundation to destigmatize mental illness and bring awareness to the issue. Her freshman year, Lillie decided it was something she wanted to bring to the school community. “When I got into high school I was like ‘This is something that we should bring to San Juan Hills,’ and I think that mental health is something that’s really important to a lot of high schoolers,” said Lillie

The club brands itself off of the color yellow to represent James. “When my brother was in elementary school, he was so adamant about wearing the color yellow. He didn’t wear anything else. That kind of was a staple for our family, even our house is yellow! Everything yellow just kind of surrounded James,” said Lillie. “When he died, my community tied yellow ribbons around our whole community.”

He was 13 years old, 8th grade. So young, but I feel like his story is super important in that way though. It kind of opened the community’s eyes.”

— Lillie

James lost his battle to suicide at the age of thirteen, which helped to serve as an eye-opener to both Lilllie and the entire community as a whole. 

“He was 13 years old, 8th grade. So young, but I feel like his story is super important in that way though. It kind of opened the community’s eyes. This is something that is greater than age or gender or anything like that. Mental health affects everyone, there’s no discrimination on who can struggle,” said Lillie.

The club has put a lot of projects into work, especially on school campuses. “We’re working with the Wellness and Prevention Center to kind of train teens how to communicate about mental health and how to be an active listener because that’s like a super big problem. We’re also trying to get Mental Health Awareness week at school,” said Lillie.

More recently, the Yellow 4 James has been working towards adding suicide prevention boxes to classrooms of schools in the district.

“We are in the works with trying to get suicide prevention boxes in classrooms in the district so we are partnering with the Find Your Anchor Organization who is also local,” said Lillie. “Recently we’ve been working on our bigger goals like suicide prevention boxes. We’re going to be volunteering with them to build these boxes.”

Ladera Ranch Middle School has already ordered boxes, so the club is volunteering to help build them. “What’s really cool about them is you get to write little notes and put them. It’s more personalized so the people who are getting the boxes feel more supported by the people around them,” said Lillie. 

The experience has been very helpful for both Lillie and club members. It has allowed for relationship growth among club members and has provided a voice to those who have not felt comfortable sharing their stories. There is a role for everyone to play, and each role is just as important as the other 

“I feel like everyone deals with mental health and being able to talk about it in such a comfortable environment is amazing. I think that it strengthens bonds in a way because it’s just another part of you that you’re sharing with other people,” said Lillie. “Even if you’re not comfortable with sharing that part, just like supporting each other and being there for everyone in our community is awesome.”

For Lillie personally, it is refreshing to see how many people want to rally around those in need. 

“Personally I think it’s so amazing to see how many kids are so involved in mental health and how many people care about other people. I know that mental illness is something that’s a personal battle that you don’t really see on the outside, so just having this club and people confiding in me is so amazing because they see me as someone who can help or can just listen,” said Lillie. 

Even if you’re not comfortable with sharing that part, just like supporting each other and being there for everyone in our community is awesome.”

— Lillie

Yellow 4 James looks to make all of the difference possible. 

“Even one story, if that can reach one person and impact their life then you’ve done something good. I think that’s kind of what we’ve created with our club. If we can just impact one person’s life and save them, we’ve done what we wanted to do,” said Lillie. 

Lillie plans on continuing to share her brother’s story within the SJHHS community well past her graduation. 

“We’re really trying to work on getting this to a greater scale,” said Lillie. “When I graduate I would hope that people carry on my brother’s legacy and promote mental health all around the campus because that’s really important.”

Yellow 4 James is a space for all students to share their stories. Lillie Ransom and club members work to improve the mental health of students of all ages, genders, and races. Battles against mental illness and wrongful stigmas surrounding mental illness continue to prove a formidable opponent against those in our community, and Yellow 4 James reminds us we must learn to grow extra inclusive and appreciative towards those around us.