A simple Facebook message was all it took to inspire a pair of teenagers to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
The young women had never met and were living 10,500km apart when Genevieve Mora, 19, reached out through Facebook to Jazz Thornton, who was dealing with a friend’s suicide.
They came up with the idea of a non-profit website which would feature the encouraging stories of some well-known faces and everyday people.
“We want to help as many people as we can,” Ms Mora says.
“When you are going through something you feel like there is no hope but if you see someone who’s got through it and is now doing something they love, it shows you there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Remuera resident would often use a smile to hide her struggle with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Both young women will tell the stories of how they overcame struggles with mental illness on the website.
The thought of sharing her battle with the world is a daunting prospect, Ms Mora says.
“Within the first day of launching it someone contacted us and told us how the site had really impacted on her.
“I burst into tears. It reminded me why we were doing it, I know how important it is.”
Ms Thornton, 18, moved on her own from Timaru to Auckland at the age of 16 to escape years of bullying and an unstable home life.
The Mt Eden woman says it would have helped at the time to have heard from other people who had gone through the same thing.
“I think using people who teenagers look up to and they think they’ve always lived this amazing life when in reality they’ve had their own struggles is important,” she says.
“It’s made us so aware that you never know what someone is going through, someone could have the biggest smile on their face but behind that it’s a different story.”
The website’s first video interviews feature Titanium singer Jordi Webber and musicians Omega Levine and Brendan Pyper.
The pair have sports stars, actors, presenters and comedians from New Zealand and Australia lined up.
Visitors to the site have access to helpline numbers and can share their own stories or send a private message to the two young women.
Go to voicesofhope.co.nz to check it out.
■ Call the telephone counselling service Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or 5222 999.
– © Fairfax NZ News