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As part of his senior project, Taylor Faber will address an issue personal to him

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Taylor Faber, a senior at St. Paul High School, is organizing a town hall on mental health as part of his senior project. The event, call 'Wipe Out the Stigma," is set for Feb. 10 in the SPHS gym.

In recent years, the subject of mental health has come to the forefront for students in the Newberg School District – particularly at Newberg High School where mental health and suicide prevention are an important focus. Now, a student from St. Paul High School is hoping to continue that conversation in his home town.

Taylor Faber, a senior at SPHS, is organizing a town hall on mental health for his senior project. The event, called "Wipe Out the Stigma," will bring in community leaders from St. Paul, Newberg and beyond to provide an open and honest discussion about mental health.

"I had to go to the hospital for something that happened to me, so my goal for my senior project is to get awareness out there about mental health," Faber said. "People need to know and have a better understanding of what goes in with mental health."

Speakers at the event will include a local police officer, psychiatrist, therapist and other voices, including young people and their families who have faced mental health challenges themselves. Faber recruited the speakers by sending a letter to various local entities with the hope of drawing in a variety of perspectives. The response was strong and the event should provide plenty of discussion, he said.

"I've heard a lot of people my age talk about this," Faber said. "I asked my mom about what it was like when she was growing up and she said back then people were afraid to talk about it. More people are more aware now and there isn't as much of a stigma."

Faber is a football, basketball and baseball player at SPHS. Mental health, he said, is a big factor for an athlete and can impact performance and one's life outside of the sport. His own struggles brought him to a realization that more needs to be said about this subject in his community.

Faber chalks up his ability to cope with mental health challenges to his family, but also teachers who were accommodating and helpful whenever he was struggling. A member of the St. Paul staff who has helped guide Faber in his senior project is Don Kunkel, who recognizes Faber's advocacy for the issue.

"Every senior has a project they need to complete during their last year here," Kunkel said. "It's always a topic they're interested in and for Taylor this is one he is extremely passionate about. It made perfect sense for him to go down this path."

The town hall will include a Q&A portion with its various speakers, along with a handful of other segments yet to be determined. It is scheduled for 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in the SPHS gym and is open for community members to attend.

More information on the event will be distributed to St. Paul community members soon, but for now Faber said he is excited about the prospect of discussing a subject that is deeply important to him.

"My main goal out of this is to inform people on what goes on with mental health," he said. "That is what I want people to get out of this town hall."

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