Crow Wing Energized: The Lighthouse Project promotes mental health awareness, announces May event

May is Mental Health Awareness month. We are excited for our May Event, which will be from 3-8 p.m., May 20, at Forestview Middle School.

Young people stand next to each other linking arms at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds.
The Lighthouse Project members Chase Koop, Madi Halverson, Landon Severson, Bailey Clausen, Cayden Brown, Emma Kvalevog, and Ella Anderson volunteer for the Eagles booth at the Crow Wing County Fair.

The Lighthouse Project is a student-led, nonprofit organization dedicated to the focus and improvement of mental health awareness.

We do this by providing counseling sessions and eradicating the stigma around asking for help. The Lighthouse Project started in 2018 after one of our classmates died from suicide.

This affected our student body and we, as students, felt that we needed to change the stigma around asking for help when a student experiences mental health struggles.

Turning Loss into Love: The Lighthouse Project - DispatchCast Episode 028
Sat Mar 31 01:16:29 EDT 2018
"I think that God put Noah and I on this earth and he made us friends to impact as many lives as possible." - Noah Ebinger

As part of its Stop Suicide series, the Brainerd Dispatch sat down with Brainerd High School juniors Noah Sundberg and Noah Ebinger to discuss their newly formed nonprofit, The Lighthouse Project. Created in memory of BHS student Jake Haapajoki, who took his own life last month, the ambitious undertaking seeks to change the culture among the pair's high school classmates and the community at large.

Host/Producer: Chelsey Perkins

Guests: Noah Sundberg, Noah Ebinger



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety problems, behavior problems, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children.

Estimates for ever having a diagnosis among children aged 3-17 years, in 2016-19, are given below.


  • ADHD 9.8% (about 6.0 million)
  • Anxiety 9.4% (approximately 5.8 million)
  • Behavior problems 8.9% (about 5.5 million)
  • Depression 4.4% (approximately 2.7 million)

For adolescents, depression, substance use and suicide are important concerns.
Among adolescents aged 12-17 years in 2018-2019 reporting on the past year:

  • 15.1% had a major depressive episode,
  • 36.7% had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness,
  • 4.1% had a substance use disorder,
  • 1.6% had an alcohol use disorder,
  • 3.2% had an illicit drug use disorder,
  • 18.8% seriously considered attempting suicide,
  • 15.7% made a suicide plan,
  • 8.9% attempted suicide,
  • 2.5% made a suicide attempt requiring medical treatment.

Our mission is to be a catalyst for the improvement of mental health and suicide prevention by focusing on community-based solutions. Recently, our group has joined with students from Pequot Lakes High School to expand outside of Brainerd.

Young people do a thumbs up standing next to each other.
Lighthouse Project members, Chase Koop, Cayden Brown, Ella Anderson, Kale Koop and Emma Kvalevog during a annual family fun event.

Our group has family friendly events to promote mental health awareness and raise funds for mental health services. In 2019, The Lighthouse Project donated $25,000 to Northern Pines Mental Health Center. This money was used to provide students free counseling sessions.

The Lighthouse Project provided 44 Brainerd students with 491 free counseling sessions. We also donated $10,000 to Brainerd High School to help pay for mental health education in the school. In 2020, we donated another $10,000 to Northern Pines Mental Health Center. We want this support to continue for students by donating more money for free counseling services.

Some events included:

● An annual Family Fun night,
● In 2018, a Bubble Run,
● In 2019, we held a color run with the Brainerd High School Yearbook Club,
● In 2019, we also had an event at Jack Pine Brewery. The event was a fundraiser
accompanied with music performed by Bryan Barber.

We have enjoyed the support of many community partners including Shirley’s Classic Grill, The Burn Nutrition Club, Jack Pine Brewery, Notch 8 Chowhouse and Drinkery.

Most recently, our group had a volleyball tournament at Pequot Lakes High School, with the community’s help we raised $2,000. This money will be donated to Northern Pines to continue to offer free counseling sessions for students.


May is Mental Health Awareness month. We are excited for our May Event, which will be from 3-8 p.m., May 20, at Forestview Middle School. This event will include a panel with mental health professionals to allow for discussion around mental health issues students are facing today. We will have family friendly activities and games, including face painting, live music, concessions, silent auction and The Lighthouse Project merchandise. We hope to have a good turnout from our community and even more provide education around mental health support.

In August, The Lighthouse Project will be involved with an event called Jack’s Big Bass Fishing Tournament at 7 a.m. Aug. 7, on the Whitefish Chain, Moonlite Bay, Crosslake. There will also be a silent auction.

Proceeds of this event will go to the Jack Hennies Memorial Fund, which helps educate and support suicide awareness and go towards Jack’s Jumps at Mount Ski Gull and The Lighthouse Project. For more information, follow Jack’s Big Bass Bash and The Lighthouse Project on Facebook.

We are proud of the work we have done to support youth in our community and are excited for the future with the continued support from our community.

“People don’t look to a lighthouse when they know where they are going. (They look) to the lighthouse when they don’t know where to turn or where to look.” - Noah Sundberg, Lighthouse Project founding member.

Bitsko RH, Claussen AH, Lichtstein J, Black LJ, Everett Jones S, Danielson MD,
Hoenig JM, Davis Jack SP, Brody DJ, Gyawali S, Maenner MM, Warner M,
Holland KM, Perou R, Crosby AE, Blumberg SJ, Avenevoli S, Kaminski JW,
Ghandour RM. Surveillance of Children’s Mental Health – United States, 2013–2019 MMWR, , 2022 / 71(Suppl-2);1–42.

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