“Personal pain pushed college student to help peers”
By guest blogger: Susan K. Maciak – CAMEO Communications & Consulting LLC
Where did it start? When will it end?
- The Joker – Aurora, Colorado
- Virginia Tech Massacre – Blacksburg, Virginia
- Sandy Hook First Grade Slaughter – Newtown, Connecticut
From coast to coast, American youth have lashed out at other classmates – in college halls, in high school libraries, in public malls – even in elementary school classrooms. What caused these rampages by American kids, often children from decent families? What’s missing? Where did we all go wrong? Murdering their peers isn’t the only deadly problem among our youth. More U.S. teenagers and young adults die from suicide, according to the Jason Foundation, than lose their lives through birth defects, cancer, stroke, AIDS, pneumonia, influenza and chronic diseases combined.
“There are 5,240 suicide attempts daily,” notes Will Ellermets, 22-year-old college student who studies communications at Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI) and is stepping to the plate to help stem these statistics. After the break-up of his two-year relationship with a girlfriend, he started to see how everyday events can turn a young person’s life upside down. “After the break-up,” he admits, “I immediately looked for ways to soothe the pain.”
He didn’t find it at parties as he thought he would. He couldn’t see it in drinking, smoking or doing drugs the way many fellow college students cope. He had no desire to start over again with a new girlfriend. Instead, he set about looking for a more positive solution. In January of 2016, then-21-year-old, Will Ellermets founded Battle of the Gains (aka BOTG or Gains). Its mission and message to other young people: Change Your Life. Change Your Community. Change Your World.
The idea behind his brainstorm was to involve communities in bolstering physical, mental and spiritual health – especially among young people in the age15 – 25 crowd. Plotting tirelessly (as well as attending college classes and working part-time jobs), Ellermets pulled together community leaders, college and high school students to launch the Gains movement last year. With increased mental, physical and spiritual health, he figured, his target audience will manage life’s challenges more optimistically.
The first Gains project was set for Summer of 2016 at Ellermet’s old high school. This big event brought in young people from wide and far to compete in flag-football, basketball and soccer tournaments hosted by the Grand Rapids Drive and Soccer Zone. They could also test their strength and agility in physical challenges provided by local companies such as Maximus Fitness, Rebounderz, MC Sports, Spectrum Health, Maximized Living and the YMCA. Local churches, charity groups and youth service organizations all stationed booths at the event to inform young competitors of help that is available in the community whenever they need support.
Ellermets is busy once again planning more activities that foster physical, mental and spiritual well-being. He’s formed a board of community leaders to help him, and has already found businesses to sponsor events. After conducting a survey of college students to find out which kind of events attract them, he added a ‘Mountain Climbing Event’ to the Gains agenda for May 2017. In the meantime, he’ll contact local high schools to find and train young ambassadors to spread the Battle of the Gains message to younger students. Ellermets is looking far into the future. He sees his idea spreading across the country and around the world. He’s already made connections that could well make Battle of the Gains a household word — in more than one language!
Change Yourself – Change Your Community – Change The World. Battle of the Gains is a movement conceived and launched by Will Ellermets, student at Grand Valley State University. Blog posts are developed by Will Ellermets and business associate / board member Susan K. Maciak, CAMEO Communications & Consulting LLC (www.cameo100.com).