Imogen Roche passed away suddenly and tragically at 15 years of age. Hundreds of teenagers mourned her passing, not only because she was taken from us too soon, but because her presence in their lives was an essential one. She was the compassionate ear on the other end of the phone. She was the empathetic friend who reached out to peers in need. She put other people's feelings in front of her own. And she would risk her life to protect the people she loved.
Although Imogen struggled in her lifetime with depression, she hated the idea of traditional therapy. She used to say about going to a therapist, "I don't want to take my emotional clothes off in front of someone who's fully dressed." She did not want to discuss her problems with adults; she wanted to look to her peers for support. And she led by example. She modeled the support for her peers that she wanted for herself.
The Imogen Foundation will continue her work here on earth by developing and implementing workshops in active listening, compassion, empathy and mental health first aid to middle school and high school students. These workshops will constitute a training program for teenagers to identify peers in crisis, provide appropriate peer support, and understand signs of mental health emergencies that require escalation and additional resources. All activities will take place in New York City middle school and high school advisory periods during day school. Donations will fund a pilot program that will roll out in spring 2019 in at least one (1) but as many as six (6) NYC DOE District 2 middle schools. We hope to scale the program to reach all NYC middle and high school students in the next four years.