Hannah’s Hope Bowls with a Purpose

Story originally published on 03/19/2017 on nwindianalife.com

Sunday, March 19 was a memorable day for Hannah’s Hope as they held their fifth annual Shamrock Shootout Bowling Tournament at the Inman’s Fun and Party Center in Valparaiso. Families and friends were all invited to a day full of friendly competition while supporting a great cause.

“Hannah’s Hope is a non-for-profit that benefits kids with special needs, yet a lot of our events aren’t geared towards kids,” Mike Martinez, executive director of Hannah’s Hope, said. “This is the one event where kids of all abilities [and] families of all abilities can come and bowl. There’s a tournament side and a family side. I love the fact that we have so many families and kids show up. Our little niche is kids with special needs so the tournament side doesn’t mind seeing that there’s a bunch of families here with kids. It’s relatively inexpensive [and] it’s a great way for everyone to connect.”

The Shamrock Shootout Tournament is one of the many fundraisers that Hannah’s Hope’s has to support their cause. The goal that started this non-for-profit organization is what has kept sponsors excited about their loyal involvement with Hannah’s Hope.

“I’ve been involved with Hannah’s Hope since the beginning. Mike and I have been very close since we were ten; we’re all in our late thirties so we go back a long time,” Joe Hall, long time family friend and sponsor, said. “The goal for this event is to make it a family fun event. We want to make sure all of our families are included as much as we can. Also, we want to be able to contribute to helping Hannah help others. By our events, we’re collecting money and sponsorships and donations and we’re using that money to help Hannah do what Mike and Mary [Martinez] set out to do years ago. Everything that we do to help Mike and Mary and to contribute to Hannah’s Hope, is very near and dear to our hearts. Being able to contribute to that, that means the world to all of us.”

Hannah’s Hope also has a new project in the works. Recently, they have started to raise money for a park specifically for special needs children.

“Now they’re trying to build the park, a special needs park. Most of the money that they have been raising the last few fundraisers goes directly to the special needs park,” Cindy Mastey, friend and attendee, said.

The Shamrock Shootout Tournament has become a favorite to many, and Mastey still remains in awe at everything that Hannah’s Hope does.

“This [event] actually has become very popular over the years; they’ve actually sold out so it’s an awesome thing what they do. They don’t take any of [the money] for themselves, everything goes straight to help children in need. It’s awesome,” Mastey said.

Lake Central Art Students Sweep the Floor in 2017

Story originally published on 04/03/2017 on nwindianalife.com.

20 Lake Central High School Advanced Art students entered in an art contest entitled “Your Mental Health Matters.” The top three prizes went to LCHS students: Cordelia Weatherby (9), Marija Ivic (12) and Lauren Gronek (12). The participants were to base their art work off a Ted Talk video entitled “To This Day,” by Shane Koyczan.

“The Mental Health Association was doing a contest and it was about Mental Health. They invited us to watch this Ted Talk and it was about a guy who was bullied [and] how you have to have the mindset to get out of it. It had a hopeful message to it,” Gronek said.

Gronek submitted a photograph that included three of her friends. She was inspired by a quote in the Ted Talk video and that bloomed her idea for her project.

“I took three of my friends and painted on them with face paint. I painted flowers on their faces and shoulders. I [chose] the quote “Beauty blooms within” [and] one of those words [were painted] on each of their faces. I had to think of [this] for a while. There was a little quote in the Ted Talk talking about a mom. She was bullied when she was younger because she had a birthmark on her face, but her son saw what was inside of her. If you want to fight depression from bullying, you need to know who you are within and that’s what truly important. I wanted to show that through the flowers. [They] were supposed to symbolize what’s within like the good parts that are flowing out of you,” Gronek said.

Ivic used her own personal feelings for her project, which made it more relevant to her life.

“[For my piece,] I did a girl with a tear. It represents how she feels. I was thinking about me and when I moved here. The words are sad and depressed and that’s how I felt when I moved here. I searched something online and then I saw a similar drawing and I just changed it. It’s not about the money that I won but it’s about [how] I won second place in Indiana and it just means so much to me,” Ivic said.

Trying to find a way to put her feelings in words, Weatherby submitted a unique piece that earned her first place. This was a piece that she will always cherish.

“My piece described anxiety and depression. The piece itself was [about] a person. It was a women, and then it was a man, and there’s a water scheme going on. It’s kind of hard to explain unless you look at it. Ging through those issues myself, [this was] the best way I could describe it to anyone who hadn’t gone through [it]. It was through the representation of [like] drowning and being chained down in certain situations. It definitely took me a lot of time and I am very proud of it. It might be the work that I am most proud of,” Weatherby said.

These students will have their work on display at the Indianapolis State House during the month of May. All 20 pieces will be exhibited at Mental Health America of Indiana and the Systems of Care Conference in Indianapolis during the month of June.

Fifth Graders Tackle the U.S Constitution

Story originally published on 05.02.2017 on nwindianalife.com.

Mrs. Meagan Bruni’s advanced fifth grade class is preparing for the ‘We The People’ competition coming up in May. The students did a project where they got to demonstrate their knowledge on the U.S. Constitution.

“Our unit is on different parts of the Constitution. Our [section] has a lot to do with like freedom of expression and religion. It’s good to know about the Constitution and its functions,” Claire Alexander (5) said.

The students will participate in two competitions, one in Gary on May 5th and one in Indianapolis in May 19th. Students will get to compete against other schools in the region, as well as present their project to judges.

“There’s going to be judges and they’re going to ask us follow up questions. We’re going to have to answer them and be an expert on our unit,” Madison Walczak (5) said.

Preparation in this project has helped the students delve deeper into the purpose of the U.S. Constitution.

“[This project is important because] you can learn a lot about the Constitution, about politics and how the government works. It’s good to participate in your government, ” Walczak said.

Mrs. Bruni hopes to start to get more students informed in the government and politics, at an earlier age.

“There’s so many people who aren’t involved in government. Especially in fifth grade, they see so much on T.V [and] on the internet, I think starting kids out at a younger age, even at 10 and 11 years old, is very powerful for them. I just think it’s a great experience for fifth graders,” Mrs. Bruni said.