Anoka Middle School for the Arts students took up the 22 Push-Up Challenge to raise awareness about the problem of suicide.
The challenge started after the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2013 released the statistic that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide daily in the United States.
Trevor Klein, AMSA science teacher and intelligence officer with the Minnesota Army National Guard, heard about the challenge and wanted to bring it to the school.
On Oct. 10, students started meeting in the gym each morning before school, and they intend to do so every school day – 22 days total – through Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
Participation has been high: Between 130 and 180 students show up to do push-ups daily, according to Klein.
“Giving the kids the opportunity to do something bigger than themselves, they’ll take it and run with it,” he said.
Eighth-grader Elijah Grabinske took up the challenge and did push-ups each morning to raise awareness for veterans.
“You just do as many as you can,” he said.
In addition to completing tens of thousands of push-ups, students created various media with facts about suicide and resources to help individuals in distress.
“If they’re in a situation or they know somebody in a situation, they have the resources to help,” Klein said.
Students also challenged Vikings player Harrison Smith, who wears jersey number 22, to join them in the 22 Push-Up Challenge. As of last week, they were still waiting for Smith to respond.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.