Stop, Talk and Overcome Pain, or “S.T.O.P.,” shows no signs of stopping as its message reaches more students and their parents, and having won founder Brenda George the 2019 Heroes for Children Award.
S.T.O.P. is a teen suicide prevention program George started in early 2018. While in prayer, the letters S, T, O and P came to her mind. She did not know what they signified until she became aware of a wave of suicide attempts by youths in Brazoria County. She hosted her first S.T.O.P. rally in July of last year.
The Heroes for Children Award program was established by the state Board of Education to recognize volunteers who go above and beyond to advocate for children’s education and contribute to public schools, according to the Texas Education Agency.
G eorge’s impact on the yo uth in the community is evident. She said over the course of the past 15 months, she has hosted many rallies sharing the message of S.T.O.P.. At each school, at least one student has spoken up about his or her feelings and expressed a need for help, George said.
“As sad as it is, you can’t save them all, but if we can at least save that one, I am happy,” George said.
George understands the importance of spreading the message that every life matters no matter a person’s age, lead counselor Allison Jasso said.
“Brenda has made a huge impact on our community as a whole, including the students in our schools,” Jasso said.
Earlier this month, George was in Austin to receive her Heroes for Children Award. She said it really is not her award but an award for all of Brazosport ISD and others in the community who have come together to help her spread such a vital message. The momentum of S.T.O.P. would not have been possible without the help George received, she said.
This year, 15 of the 1,031 school districts throughout Texas had someone selected for this award, putting George in an elite group of honored volunteers, district volunteer Sharon Richie said.
Since the founding of the award in 1994, George is the first volunteer from Brazosport ISD to receive it, Superintendent Danny Massey said.
This is just the beginning for her and the future of S.T.O.P., George said.
She said there is a bright future for S.T.O.P. as more people are coming on board. The program is growing fast, George said.
Last year, the program reached four school districts. This year, eight school districts will get to hear the message of S.T.O.P., Richie said.
George said there is no better time than now to start spreading the message that children and teens are not alone and that suicide is not the answer.
“By hosting assemblies, we can get in the schools and help children and actually go face to face with their peers and help them. The time for that is right now,” George said.
The second-leading cause of death for Texans between the ages of 10 and 24 is suicide. Brazoria County’s suicide rate has been increasing in recent years, according to the S.T.O.P. website.
Since the start of the S.T.O.P. program, over 2,000 youths have been positively impacted by George’s message, according to the S.T.O.P. website.
Others can make a difference to the youth in the community as well by donating to S.T.O.P. online at www.stopglobal.org, George said. Donations go toward helping the lives of countless youth.