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SALT LAKE CITY — The Love Hard Foundation was started in January to make a positive difference in the mental and emotional health of Utah teens.
Love Hard provides additional support and counseling for teens going through tough times. The nonprofit is getting more involved in schools and communities each week by connecting with kids and their families to let them know they can transform trauma into triumph.
"We wanted to provide solutions for kids inside these schools so they have additional resources," said Shawn Vierra, co-founder of the Love Hard Foundation.
This fall, Love Hard is expanding its outreach in school assemblies and community events across Utah.
Vierra started off working with the Weber School District to provide a form of trauma therapy at no cost. He was abused and neglected as a teen, lost his father to suicide in high school, and understands the damage that can do.
"Trauma therapy saved my life, it changed my life," he said. "We wanted to make sure these kids had access to it early on."
If teens can eliminate trauma early, he believes, they can refocus on positive influences and turn trauma into triumph.
"Suicide in the schools is increasing," Vierra said. "So, we'd like, if we can, to bring these solutions to students early. It gives them their best chance to enjoy their school years."
Working with the foundation, Josh Downs developed a program called LYFT, which stands for Lift Your Fellow Teens.
"We can best overcome the bad by increasing the good, and trying to give these kids opportunities to get outside themselves to see the needs of others," Downs said.
Both men are fathers of teenagers, so that's part of their motivation.
"Really, the best way to feel better about ourselves is to help somebody else feel better," Downs said.
They want to help teens and their families find a comfortable place in life where the kids are making connections, feel good about themselves, and their mental health.
Love Hard is hosting a free event Monday at 7 p.m. at Riverton High School called "Live in Real Life, Transforming Trauma to Triumph." Everyone is welcome.
Downs and Vierra will talk to parents and teens about transforming traumatic events and challenges into triumphs.
"We just want to help these kids be able to graduate trauma-free and just in a good place where they're ready to tackle life," Downs said.
Reach out to Love Hard through its website.