Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 15, 2019

Spartans on defense, Manchester v. Trine (Bridget Nash)

Spartans plays defense on third down during the Manchester vs. Trine Community Night game.

Photo provided by Bridget Nash

MU Supports Mental Health Awareness

Erin Hickle


Free ice cream and a bouncy house were visible as MU football fans flooded through the R. Wayne Smith gate last Thursday at 6:45 p.m. Students, volunteers, MU employees and people from the community gathered at the Carl W. Burt Memorial Stadium for the kickoff of Spartan football, but also to join in Community Night, where anyone was welcome to come and support an important cause.

This year, Community Night was held in order to raise awareness of mental health. T-shirts were sold beforehand that read ‘Manchester Spartans Support Mental Health Awareness’ in green lettering, the color of support for mental health. Both the Manchester and Trine football teams were also showing their support by wearing bright green shoelaces in their cleats.

While Community Night was centered on a serious topic in the hope of raising awareness and support, there were fun activities for all ages to participate—including face painting and a game of limbo. Many of the face-painting options were Manchester related, featured the color green, or the volunteers were happy to attempt to paint whatever was wanted.

Along with the events put on by Community Night, two local organizations were there to support the community and engage the crowd. ASPIN, a health navigator program, gave away an assortment of products, including free toothbrushes. Bowen Center, an organization that helps with mental health in a variety of ways, offered free football stress balls and mints.

The event could not have been executed without the help of volunteers. The women’s basketball and softball teams scooped ice cream, painted faces, kept an eye on the bouncy house and limbo games, and offered a friendly greeting to those who walked by. “You know it is a great community when volunteers reach out to you to volunteer,” said Heather Schilling, director of Teacher Education and organizer of Community Night.

Schilling was happy with the turnout and the way the event was running: There were many people hanging around, going from one station or vendor to another. The volunteers remained busy, as people continued through the gates. “Community Night is great and a lot of fun,” said Alexis Mokos, a senior on the softball team who was volunteering. “It looks like a big turnout.”

With the event being held right before the football game, Community Night was able to engage those football fans from both teams who were heading toward the bleachers to find their seats. It also drew in people from the university and surrounding areas. Those in attendance were able to not only have fun, enjoy a cold treat, or become a work of art, but also they were made aware of mental health and ways they can support each other and the cause itself.