Before you guys came to my school today I was thinking terrible thoughts
about self-harm or suicide. I went to bed last night feeling bummed out and
woke up this morning feeling very blue. When you came I realized that I was
not alone and that I had a voice. Your sharing stories with me gave me
strength. You guys truly are like angels and miracle workers. You saved me
from my darkest hours and showed me that because I mean so much to others, I
should never give up on myself. You guys put me back on my feet and I can’t
say how grateful I am for what you did for me.

(This student has reported in follow-up contacts with the troupe that he
continues to have a voice and no longer keeps his problems trapped inside
his head. He’s dealing with them in ways which are healthy – not hurtful.)

Student

Robert Frost Junior High School in Schaumburg, Illinois – March 20, 2017.

Your MWAH! troupe sent a strong message in a fun, yet meaningful way. I now plan to try my very hardest to stop judging people by what they look like and to try to know the stories behind them.

Seventh Grade Student

Marseilles Elementary School in Marseilles, Illinois – February 27, 2017.

After seeing your presentation I think I will now be more understanding of other people and will try to be more helpful when they’re having problems.

Seventh Grade Student

Marseilles Elementary School in Marseilles, Illinois – February 27, 2017.

The parts about bullying and suicide made a huge impact on me because I have dealt with both of these issues and they are problems which need to be talked about. After your performance I now feel better about myself. Now I know that we all need to stick together and be here for each other. I now will try to better understand what others are going through and try to help them. You guys did an amazing job in presenting very important issues. What you did today at my school was very powerful.

Eighth Grade Student

Marseilles Elementary School in Marseilles, Illinois – February 27, 2017.

Your focus on divorce was very meaningful to me because my parents went through a powerful divorce. You also made me more comfortable in speaking out if one of my friends is in a difficult situation..

Eighth Grade Student

Marseilles Elementary School in Marseilles, Illinois – February 27, 2017.

What was most shocking about your presentation was the mom telling us about the loss of her son to suicide because I didn’t know this could happen to anyone so young. I will now change the way I see other people. Overall, this was the best assembly I’ve ever been to.

Seventh Grade Student

Marseilles Elementary School in Marseilles, Illinois – February 27, 2017.

The segment about suicide was strong. My past is a rocky road because I’ve faced bullies, emotional abuse, and depression. This assembly has made a difference in how I think. I’m now glad that I didn’t end it all on that dark and depressing night.

Eighth Grade Student

Marseilles Elementary School in Marseilles, Illinois – February 27, 2017.

I Knew that bullying was bad. I just didn’t know it was that bad until you guys talked about kids who had committed suicide. After your performance I realized that I need to start standing up for people when they are bullied because it’s the right thing to do. I liked how you gave examples of kids being bullied and what to do in these kinds of situations.

Seventh Grade Student

Marseilles Elementary School in Marseilles, Illinois – February 27, 2017.

Your troupe did a fantastic job at our school today!! My students loved it! Even my tough guys said they had tears in their eyes. What you did here today really hit home! My students said your approach is so much better than just lectures. Great job!!

Gayle Bianchi

Teacher, Marseilles Elementary School in Marseilles, Illinois – February 27, 2017.

Thank you for coming to Knoxville High School. You demonstrated tremendous talent mixed with empathy and fun for a powerful show. It was one of the most impactful events I have witnessed as a counselor of 10 years.

Elise L. McNeese,

Guidance Counselor, Knoxville (Illinois) High School regarding a troupe appearance at her school on August 29, 2016

Your segment about suicide really impacted me because I have tried committing suicide. You helped me to understand that under our masks we all face problems. I now plan to stand up more for what I believe and to feel better about myself.

Student

Knoxville, Illinois High School, August 29, 2016

I loved what you did! I brought our school together.

Student

Knoxville, Illinois High School, August 29, 2016

I hope you come back! It was very touching and made me see the world as it really is.

Student

Knoxville, Illinois High School, August 29, 2016

I have had suicidal thoughts and you made me feel not alone because everyone goes through something. What you did at our school was amazing! Thank you for coming.

Student

Knoxville, Illinois High School, August 29, 2016

Because of you guys I’m going to put more thought into my decisions and to be more open-minded.

Student

Knoxville, Illinois High School, August 29, 2016

I now plan on breaking by birth family’s cycle of drinking and doing drugs.

Student

Knoxville, Illinois High School, August 29, 2016

What impacted me the most was the discussion when students at our school shared their own stories. I never knew that people here were going thought something like that and I now think of them as better people. Now I plan to no longer keep things bottled up inside myself because that can be unhealthy and dangerous. I now want to help other people the way the MWAH! troupe helped me.

Student

Knoxville, Illinois High School, August 29, 2016

I now consider my hero as someone who I can talk to in times of struggle. And I now will try to be as kind as I can to people and listen to them if they need someone to talk to. I will try to view everyone equally.

Student

Knoxville, Illinois High School, August 29, 2016

Your MWAH! troupe members certainly have both talent and heart, and their messages resonated because of that passion.  Probably one of the most moving things to me was how your troupe incorporated our students through song, dance, recognition as heroes, and later during the discussion session, making them actively involved in the experience and not passive.  Our students’ active involvement throughout the presentation enhanced their experience and helped them to stay engaged.  What your troupe does is very important!

Inga Harty

Director of Human Resources, Fidlar Technologies in Davenport, Iowa. Inga is a parent of students enrolled in Rock Island-Milan School District #41 and was the co-organizer and co-sponsor of the MWAH! troupe’s appearance for Rock Island Junior High Schools on 11/14/16

I very much enjoyed having your troupe here. All segments of your presentation were impactful. Your students had great insight on our issues and they conducted themselves very well. I am looking forward to bringing you back in the future.

Josh Johnson

Principal, Prophetstown High School, 01/25/16

I suffer from extreme depression and have thought about killing myself because of my past. I will not end up like my Dad. I will not go to prison or do drugs. I will not put up with abuse like my mom has. I will be someone because of how you guys came across to me.

a freshman, age 14

Galesburg High School, 10/5/15

One change I’ll make because of MWAH! is to talk with my parents more. I am LGBT and they don’t really understand it too well. Everything you did was beautiful, sad, funny, and informative, and I love your troupe and what you do. Please keep it up

a freshman, age 14

Galesburg High School, 10/5/15

Not only are the troupe members wonderfully proficient musicians and dancers, but they also are very confident public speakers and leaders. The production was very moving and had great attention from the audience members, some of whom I saw moved to tears! Some of the issues were deep and difficult to discuss, but the MWAH! teens presented them with clarity and sincerity. I loved how earnestly they urged those in the audience to find help for themselves or their friends and provided them with many avenues to do so. A wonderful group and production – should be at every school!

Stephanie Willcox

Professional Photographer, John Deere Middle School, 5/4/15

The MWAH! teen troupe members were awesome! Everything was woven together well and professionally done. The personal touches were great!

Dr. Greg Wallace

Teacher, Wheeling High School Snowball, 4/11/15

The performance far exceeded our expectations! It was very interactive and included our students, which made it very memorable for them. Your passion to help kids is so inspiring to me. I am grateful that MWAH! was able to perform at our school and impact our children in such a profound way.

Ms. Photini Manesiotis

School Counselor, Northlake Middle School, 2/23/15

The performance and discussion session were outstanding! We could not have asked for a better presentation. I’ve gotten a ton of positive comments from students and staff. It definitely had an impact on our students. All of the major issues that students are faced with were addressed. Thank you for making the long drive to share such powerful information with our students!

Jennifer Turner

School Counselor, Bondurant–Farrar Middle School, 10/20/14

You covered a wide range of issues – all pertinent to middle school students – and I liked the way you rotated between serious moments / topics and humor. That kept everyone engaged. Having the troupe members comparable in age to our students was impactful. I wish all of our students could have been part of the ‘debriefing’ discussion session following the presentation.

Bonita Wiley

Teacher, Bondurant–Farrar Middle School, 10/20/14

One thing I liked was that your presentation was realistic. Your skits showed similar struggles that we teenagers face. During the discussion session afterwards the troupe members knew a lot about what had happened on stage and were able to give some good advice.

Student

Lena–Winslow High School, 10/6/14

Your performance was very eye opening. All the pieces were put together very well. I feel that many people in our school don’t realize the affects of drinking, and I feel what you did about that may have helped them to better understand.

Student

Lena–Winslow High School, 10/6/14

I personally found the discussion session following the performance very helpful and loved having our Metamora junior high kids be part of the MWAH! presentation. Watching the troupe members interact off-stage was a true testament to the fact that they live what they say on stage. They are great role models!

Amanda Peck

Student Council Advisor, Metamora Grade School, 5/12/14

Awesome singers and a very polite troupe.

Physical Education and Health Teacher, Geneseo Middle School, 4/7/14

This was by far the best presentation that I have seen since I have been at Erie High School.

Mrs. Jan Unruh

Special Education Teacher, Erie High School, 3/10/14

“This assembly was one of the greatest things I’ve ever been part of! The show was absolutely great! Come back soon please!!”
– (Andrew Regalado)

“This assembly was one of the greatest things I’ve ever been part of! The show was absolutely great! Come back soon please!!”
– (Andrew Regalado)

“I absolutely loved the whohing! You guys were so fantastic and I’m glad I got the pleasure to watch you! Come back again, please?!”
– (Shawna Wyekstandt)

“You guys were amazing! It was an honor dancing with you guys today! Thank you for letting us be a part of your performance!”
– (Santiago Delgado)

“I loved the dancing part!! Taylor was such a great teacher and it definitely was a pleasure dancing with this group! Thank you guys for letting me dance with you!”
– (Matt Long)

“I also liked the end when some of my friends and I went up to thank and talk with all of the troupe members. It was cool to see that these kids are just like all of us with just a couple of extraordinary talents!”
– (Matt Long)

“There was not one best part. The whole show was amazing and I loved every second of it.”
– (Tania Daisy Romo)

“I loved the messages being spread. They were so meaningful as well as eye opening! Loved it! 🙂 ”
– (Brittany Elizabeth)

“It was great! The music, dancing, how you had us get involved. The best bullying assembly if I do say so myself. Please do come back again!”
– (Sandra Hamilton)

“It was inspirational. 🙂 ”
– (Brody Wharfield)

“Everything was simply spectacular! But my favorite was when the ‘heroes’ were invited onto the stage. I’m very glad that they received the recognition that they deserved.”
– (Tess Schaefer)

“I loved when the guys sang to me. I mean who wouldn’t want three great guys singing to them? :)”
– (Melissa Villa)

“One of the most amazing event I have had the privilege of attending! I wish we could have watched you guys and listened to you speak all day long! It changed my entire mood for the day. You guys are absolutely amazing.”
– (Natalie Swanson)

“I loved the ‘heroes’ part! You guys are amazing and inspiring people!”
– (Jada Moore)

“I never get emotional at school, but I did today.”
– (Jordan Moeller)

“It was a really neat show. I wanna see it again!!! 🙂 ”
– (Marly Tommo May)

“The whole show was powerful. We were emotionally involved right from the beginning.”
– (Paul Chromek)

Various Students

Rock Falls High School, 2/24/14

Our work with the troupe in preparing for its appearance at our school was quite meaningful and well worth the time and effort. Our students haven’t stopped talking about it, and our staff agrees that it was our best assembly in over a decade! I can’t wait to have MWAH! back in three years!

Danelle Lyon

Counselor, Wilson Middle School, 9/30/13

Your true story piece ‘Two Houses’ about divorce and family break–ups hit home for a large number of our students…your kids do such an amazing job of holding students’ attention and relaying these powerful messages.

Sharon McGuire

Paraprofessional, Prairie Central Junior High School, 9/9/13

An awesome performance that really touched our students…the positive choices segment reiterated what our teaching staff has been emphasizing…most impactful messages on bullying, eating disorders, and child abuse…a lot of topics hit home!…you were amazing!…totally worth everything…you guys are the bomb!

Katie Shevokas

Counselor and Operation Snowball Advisor, LaMoille High School, 5/9/13

The troupe’s entire presentation was impactful. It touched on a variety of meaningful topics and caused both students and teachers to stop and reflect on their choices and behaviors.

Alicia Christiansen

Principal, Northeast High School, 4/22/13

Thank you for a wonderful performance at Northeast High School! Thanks for opening students’ eyes to real world problems and the consequences that can result from them. And thank you for letting students know they are special, no matter what, and that someone is always there for them. A very inspirational presentation!

Madalynn Meier

SADD Chapter President – Students Against Destructive Decisions, Northeast High School, 4/22/13

MWAH! does a great job of reaching students! It isn’t always easy to talk about these types of topics, but you do it in a way that adults would never be able to! It was impactful to see how our students reacted to the performance.

Cheryl Mullen

School Counselor, Glenwood High School, 11/5/12

MWAH! does a great job of reaching students! It isn’t always easy to talk about these types of topics, but you do it in a way that adults would never be able to! It was impactful to see how our students reacted to the performance.

Cheryl Mullen

School Counselor, Glenwood High School, 11/5/12

MWAH! does a great job of reaching students! It isn’t always easy to talk about these types of topics, but you do it in a way that adults would never be able to! It was impactful to see how our students reacted to the performance.

Cheryl Mullen

School Counselor, Glenwood High School, 11/5/12

Your true story piece ‘Two Houses’ about divorce and family break–ups hit home for a large number of our students…your kids do such an amazing job of holding students’ attention and relaying these powerful messages.

Sharon McGuire

Paraprofessional, Prairie Central Junior High School, 9/9/13

An awesome performance that really touched our students…the positive choices segment reiterated what our teaching staff has been emphasizing…most impactful messages on bullying, eating disorders, and child abuse…a lot of topics hit home!…you were amazing!…totally worth everything…you guys are the bomb!

Katie Shevokas

Counselor and Operation Snowball Advisor, LaMoille High School, 5/9/13

The troupe’s entire presentation was impactful. It touched on a variety of meaningful topics and caused both students and teachers to stop and reflect on their choices and behaviors.

Alicia Christiansen

Principal, Northeast High School, 4/22/13

MWAH! does a great job of reaching students! It isn’t always easy to talk about these types of topics, but you do it in a way that adults would never be able to! It was impactful to see how our students reacted to the performance.

Cheryl Mullen

School Counselor, Glenwood High School, 11/5/12

Because of MWAH! I will try to look at everyone’s feelings from their perspective – not just my own.

a senior, age 17

Galesburg High School, 10/5/15

You guys helped me to stand up for anyone who is being bullied and to stand up for me too! I live in an abusive home and your show was really strong and personal to me cause I’ve been bullied since I was in the second grade. You’ve helped me to stand up for myself. I can’t wait to see you guys again!

a freshman, age 14

Galesburg High School, 10/5/15

I am really impressed with what they do. The stories are so amazing, so powerful. Here are high school and middle school students talking about a wide range of issues and the sincerity is there. I think our kids really feel that!

Chad Cox

Principal, Abingdon-Avon Elementary School and Middle School, 8/24/15

“I am really impressed with what they do. The stories are so amazing, so powerful. Here are high school and middle school students talking about a wide range of issues and the sincerity is there. I think our kids really feel that!”

“What was most impactful for me was when you guys talked about how Muslims are perceived and how often they are treated unfairly because I am Muslim.”

“What impacted me the most was your female troupe member who said she used to cut herself because she had self-image problems. I also used to cut myself, and I still have self-image problems.”

“I learned that we should not judge people by their looks because they could be going through some hard stuff.”

“I think it’s incredible that teens as young as you guys are spreading the word!”

“After learning of the young ages of MWAH! troupe members, I was even more impressed with the cohesiveness, spirit, veracity, and oneness displayed by your troupe. Very, very impressive!”

Various students

Wheeling High School Snowball, 4/11/15

I no longer think of MWAH! as a performance, but more of an experience. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of the experience.

Jim Wichman

Principal, DeWitt Central Intermediate and Middle Schools, 2/9/15

An excellent performance by very talented kids. The material was ‘heavy,’ but appropriate. It was both uplifting and meaningful. I can’t think of any issues not addressed that should have been. The performance offered a wide array of topics.

Chad Carlson

Principal, Bondurant–Farrar Middle School, 10/20/14

I thought your presentation was amazing! At times it made me cry, but at other times it made me laugh. Props go out to you for having the courage to go up in front of all those people and talk about such serious issues and really open the eyes of other teenagers about the seriousness of bullying, teen suicide, and other things you covered. Keep doing what you’re doing because you can really change/save the lives of many teenagers just through your presentation.

Student

Lena–Winslow High School, 10/6/14

I thought your skits were not just funny but also serious. I feel like I took in a lot of information and would like to pass it on. I think you guys should go everywhere to perform. Your singing was incredible and all of you performed like professionals. I would like to see this more, and I feel like it helped us all. I would like to thank you again and say you were AMAZING!

Student

Lena–Winslow High School, 10/6/14

I really liked your whole presentation. You got your point across very effectively without being cheesy. Although I cried a lot, it really made me think differently about basically everything. I wish you guys would come back. Please keep doing what you’re doing because it really made a difference in my mindset.

Student

Lena–Winslow High School, 10/6/14

A very impactful and excellent presentation!

Tim Farquer

Superintendent/Principal, Williamsfield High School, 4/28/14

It was so important for our students to see kids their own age with such incredible talent, yet motivating messages of hope, and to see the effect the presentation had on our students.

Special Education Teacher

Geneseo Middle School, 4/7/14

These messages are so much more powerful coming from kids the same ages as our students.

School Counselor

Geneseo Middle School, 4/7/14

What you bring to our students is so real because they’re in those types of situations or they know someone who is. Because you have real students telling their own stories, our students can see that they can make it…that there’s hope…that they’re not alone. What your troupe does is amazing! Thank you for reaching out to kids who are hurting to give them hope for a better life.

Deborah Labrey

Special Education Aide, Colona Grade School, 1/13/14

Most impactful were the segments about cyber–bullying, youth suicide, and the tragic effects of heroin. All the segments were powerful! Our kids asked why this presentation wasn’t offered each year! They saw the power in it and were moved. A fantastic job!

Ms. Gina Reeder

Principal, Churchville Middle School, 12/2/13

I liked the balance between serious topics and more light–hearted ones and the way the audience was involved. You really grabbed our attention from the start and kept us engaged throughout the presentation. Overall, an excellent show that impacted all of us on a very meaningful level. Some of our students later opened up about some things going on in their lives which they may never have shared had they not experienced the performance. Thank you so much!

Sandra Dittloff

Guidance Counselor, Greendale Middle School, 11/18/13

The pictures associated with the true story experiences, especially about bullying and youth suicide, really hit home, and the personal connections made it so powerful! An awesome presentation, especially by performers who are students themselves about issues that impact nearly all young people. I appreciated the tailoring of content to meet the needs of our student population. A great job!

Loretta Furtute

Assistant Principal, Brooks Middle School, 11/4/13

What an amazing show and talented group of students! One of our teachers said, ‘I have worked here for 18 years and this was the best assembly I’ve seen.’ Our students loved it and it sparked great discussions! Thank you again!

Caitlin Gannon

School Counselor, MacArthur Middle School, 10/15/13

It was so amazing and it touched everyone in our audience in some way! Many students later commented on those parts about family break-ups and divorce, abusive relationships, and bullying. The huge pictures added a lot. It was great for some staff to see and realize that these are ‘real issues’ happening to these kids every day. I think the older you get, the harder it is to remember that. Thank you so much!

Tiffany Denys

Art and Consumer Education Teacher, Wilson Middle School, 9/30/13

You guys just visited my school, PORTA High School, and you were amazing! You send an amazing message! Keep it up. I know you are making a huge impact in the world. I’ve already seen the impact you made in my school. Thank you for doing what you do.

Kaila Ann Marie Gatton

Student, PORTA High School, 4/8/13

Thank you guys so much for coming to Athens today. I tried committing suicide three times just barely over a year ago. I also was in a very abusive relationship a few years ago. During your performance my best friend and I were crying when you covered bullying and suicide. She saved me from that awful place I was in. I strongly look up to all of you now, so thank you for giving me that. I’ve been so lost still, and having people younger and older than myself stand up like that and talk about issues like this really gave me hope. Thanks to you guys, I know I’m here to help someone else. You really are my idols, and I love all of you. Thank you so much for coming to my school.

Mackenzie Lynn Graham

Student, Athens High School, 3/18/13

I was extremely impressed and touched by your amazing performance today at Athens High School. It was different to hear about all these issues from people our age. It makes it just that much more meaningful. Some of your messages really hit home, and all of them were taken to heart. Thanks for making a difference in so many young lives. You guys are just amazing. Keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂

Sarah Ann Kline

Student, Athens High School, 3/18/13

This was the third time I have seen MWAH! and each time I see it I love it even more. Each segment is so meaningful. There is a perfect balance of seriousness and fun and everyone is entertained. It’s very unpredictable and always has the audience’s attention. After the performance I had the chance to talk with most of the troupe members, and each person was so kind and so passionate about what they do. That is so inspiring! I’m a better person for meeting them.

Abby Ralph

Co-Director, Sacred Heart Griffin High School Operation Snowball, 1/12/13

I truly feel that the messages being addressed ‘hit home.’ The true stories, together with the music, really kept the kids intrigued! It was a reality check for both students and staff. After the assembly our students couldn ‘t stop talking about how much they enjoyed it. Many said they wished they could have watched it all day! A great job by MWAH!

Kelly Zdralevich

Sixth Grade Math Teacher, Palos South Middle School, 12/3/12

This presentation should be in every high school in Illinois every four years.

Norine Hammond

Illinois State Representative of the 93rd Legislative District, Galesburg High School, 10/9/12

An excellent presentation. Extremely well done! Quite professional and very meaningful!

Roy Van Meter

Principal, Galesburg High School, 10/9/12

An excellent presentation. Extremely well done! Quite professional and very meaningful!

Roy Van Meter

Principal, Galesburg High School, 10/9/12