Whether intricately drawn or simply written, the word “love” was scrawled across the forearms of many students on November 13, the goal being to bring awareness to the issue of suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation and addiction, and its sufferers. The support movement is lead by the non-profit known as “To Write Love On Her Arms” (TWLOHA).
TWLOHA was started by a group of Christian friends, headed by founder Jamie Tworkowski. In February 2006 Tworkowski and his friends united in an attempt to help their friend, Renee, a 19-year old who abused drugs, had constant thoughts of suicide and cut her arms with razorblades to help ease her internal pain. Tworkowski and his friends provided support to Renee and later founded TWLOHA to help others like Renee.
According to the organization’s website, the vision of TWLOHA is to “[provide] hope and find help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.”
Tworkowski has received much praise in his efforts to fulfill that vision. This past year Rolling Stone magazine featured an article on Tworkowski, calling him a “surfer turned savior.” MTV showed their praise by awarding the founder a Good Woodie, which MTV defines as an award given to “the artists whose commitment to a social cause has effected the greatest change this year.”
What sets TWLOHA apart from other recovery groups is its focus on giving people very direct ways to express support. In addition to having people write “love” on their bodies, TWLOHA has set up blogs on social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. They encourage story-sharing.
“[The online blogs] are used as sort of a newspaper or magazine, if you will, to give updates and information on their movement,” says second-year Animation student Ben Burton. Burton is an active supporter of TWLOHA who attended the recent Rolling Stone photo shoot. When asked about his experience with TWLOHA and his feelings on being close to Tworkowski during the shoot, he said, “it’s not about me…Whether it be a meeting or photo shoot it’s all about the message and that’s something that I noticed while there and really hit home for me.” The photo shoot was held in New York City and consisted of Tworkowski and some “friends” posing, wearing signature TWLOHA hoodies.
The movement has gathered support from indie rock bands like Switchfoot, Anberlin and Jimmy Eat World. Band members have shown their support by wearing TWLOHA hoodies and t-shirts while performing on stage and directing fans to check out the movement’s website.
TWLOHA aims to inspire and uplift people who need help. Although TWLOHA was started with a Christian influence, the movement is open to people of all faiths, races and beliefs. TWLOHA also lends support to family and friends of suicide victims. The organization welcomes volunteers, donations and thoughts of encouragement.