Special to the Enquirer McBride is awarded his Eagle Scout July 5 for his efforts in helping other children who have lost a parent to suicide.

Hartselle teen uses experience to help others

 

In light of his father’s sudden death, Hartselle teen Janzen McBride decided to take part in a special Eagle Scout project to help others who are going through something similar. 

When McBride was 11 years old, he lost his father to suicide. By age 14 he was determined to make sure no other child has to feel alone if they go through a similar situation. 

NaToshia Garrison, McBride’s mother, said her son has always known he wanted to do something to help others going through the loss of a parent. She said he drew from his own experiences and did some research to help write a brochure for other children who lose someone to suicide.

“He decided there was a big gap. When his father passed away, he was 11, and all the brochures and information people gave him were written by an adult and basically for adults,” Garrison said. “He felt very isolated and very alone, and he didn’t understand how he was supposed to feel. All the stuff they gave him was written kind of over his head. He decided he wanted to create something for children and young adults that was by a young adult.” 

Special to the Enquirer
Janzen McBride stands in front of the Hartselle City Schools Central Office with his completed brochure about losing someone to suicide.

With help from his grief counselor with hospice, McBride spent 80 hours researching, writing and sharing his own experiences to make the child-friendly guide – but it didn’t stop there.

McBride said he felt the brochure was so important he walked to the Hartselle City Schools Central Office five times to talk with Superintendent Dr. Dee Dee Jones about placing the brochures in each of the schools. He also went to Camp Hope and shared his experiences with three other children in Morgan County who had lost a parent to suicide. “He decided to share his own personal story in the brochure. He said if it helps just one person, it’s worth it,” Garrison said. 

Garrison said the hours of work were made much more special when her son was able to visit with children at Camp Hope and share his work. “He felt really, really good when it was complete – especially because right when it was done was when Camp Hope started, and he was able to take it and physically see how it helped another child,” Garrison said. 

After his brochure was reviewed, McBride earned his Eagle Scout for the project earlier this month. His pamphlets will be used in all of Hartselle City Schools and in Decatur Heritage. 

Garrison said having the pamphlet in the schools was especially important to McBride. “When his father passed away, he was in the Intermediate School, and his counselor really talked to him and made a big impact on him there,” Garrison said. “All of his teachers, librarians, lunch ladies and school staff signed a card and mailed it to our address. He said if another kid walks in that office, now the counselor will be able to say they are not the only kid that has been through this.”

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