Somebody cares, somebody understands

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Free camp, aimed to inspire youth, opens July 16

COLUMBUS — A free camp — aimed to encourage, uplift and inspire — will be available next week for third through 12th-grade children.

The camp will be held next Monday through Thursday in the downstairs of Steps to HOPE, located on Wall Street in Columbus. For students in grades 3-6, the camp will be from 9-11:30 a.m., and for grades 7-12, the camp will be from 12:30-3 p.m.

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Students do not have to attend every day, and there is no charge.

The #IAmSomebody movement was started by Landrum’s Brittney Staley in 2015, and she held the first youth camp last summer. The camp includes daily lessons and activities focused on improving self-esteem, anti-bullying and other issues students face at school and in life.

“The #IAmSombody movement started in July 2015 after losing my brother, Jaheir [Ford],” Staley said. “I prayed from February to July asking God to give me something that would help those struggling with depression, anxiety, suicide and mental illness in general. I knew there was something I had to do and that’s what God gave me as I was sitting at work one afternoon.”

Staley said she started the camp last year to reach young people, to let them know someone cares and someone understands and to remind them they are not fighting this thing alone.

“I wanted to reach as many young people as possible because my heart aches every time I hear that some young person has chosen to end their life,” Staley said. “This camp chooses positivity, love, compassion, encouragement and so much more. Truth of the matter is, some kids just aren’t comfortable talking to their parents or friends about the many things they are feeling.”

Staley’s #IAmSomebody movement, which can be found on Staley’s Facebook page (Brittney Too-Fly Staley), features daily videos. In April this year, the #IAmSomebody movement reached 1,000 videos, and the movement will celebrate three years on Saturday.

“I want people to understand that mental illness is real and it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Staley said. “It’s like any other illness that people face. We just have to end the stigma. From that point, [July 2015], I started posting encouraging, uplifting and positive videos to help people dealing with mental illness.”

Staley said she hopes her camp leaves every young person feeling stronger, happier and with the will to continue to fight and never give up.

For more information on the camp, people may call 828-817-9290 or email