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Shawnee Mission parents form nonprofit to support high school students

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — High school students tell 41 Action News there's a big need for more mental health resources in the community. A recently created nonprofit named Tyler's House will provide some much-needed emotional support to high school students in northeast Johnson County. Cori Hastings, the organization's founder and parent of three graduates of Shawnee Mission North High School, said she noticed a need among students to have a space for after-school activities and creative arts programming. "They need people that they can count on, that they can trust, and that they can come to in a crisis or just come to because they need someone to talk to," Hastings said. Hastings has spent the last few months developing the organization. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the group is heavily focused on mental health and self-care. Students participate in activities such as "brain breaks," which include journaling, breathing exercises and conversations. Erin Morgan, a May 2020 graduate of Shawnee Mission North High School, said the program is needed among students. "High school curriculum doesn't teach enough when it comes to mental health and mental well-being," Morgan said. Morgan said Tyler's House recently helped her through a difficult time. "Just knowing that someone was there for me and someone wanted to hear what I was going through it meant a lot to me," Morgan said. Hastings said she wants to focus on creating a community and a safe space for students. "Oftentimes we don't always think of high school students as needing that extra effort or that care or concern because they're old enough, they can stay alone," Hastings said. "The truth is they need us as much as the younger ones." Former Shawnee Mission North High School student Alexandra Coddington said she plans to volunteer some time with the group. "I think it's really just building a community for them," Coddington said. "It helps build up their self-esteem and helps them have a better future."

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