A Different Kind of Lifeguard started as an idea Jill Turbak had when she was working as a lifeguard for the city of Sioux Falls. Sitting in her lifeguard chair, scanning the water and pool deck below, she thought about how she knew exactly what to do if someone was doing something unsafe if they were hurt, or of course if they started drowning. This was needed to know information for her job, but when she left at night, she and many others she knew was struggling to stay afloat because they were silently struggling with a mental health condition.
Soon after these initial musings, Jill developed a program called Blowing the Whistle on Mental Illness, Self-Injury, and Suicide, which uses lifeguard analogies to teach young people how to recognize the signs and symptoms surrounding mental illness, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. She has shared this program with thousands across South Dakota and hopes to one day train others to share this program as well.
A Different Kind of Lifeguard’s “I WILL NOT GIVE UP” campaign has reached thousands around the world and became a battle cry for those who have made the pledge to not give up on themselves or others who are struggling. ADKOL’s newest campaign “STILL HERE” focuses on those who have survived a suicide attempt and they hope to soon be able to share stories of community members who are working towards recovery.
In March of last year, A Different Kind of Lifeguard was incorporated as a domestic nonprofit organization that is led by Jill and six dedicated board members. ADKOL’s main focus in the coming year is to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness, self-injury, and suicide and promote mental health for all.
On April 18, A Different Kind of Lifeguard will host their first-ever Self Care Summit, a day dedicated to learning and exploring different forms of self-care, something that is incredibly important for everyone to practice.
ADKOL is so excited to have been named Chelsea’s Charity of the Year for 2020, especially since Chelsea’s mission to empower others is so closely aligned with ours. We hope that you will make it out for an Empowerment Event (or all of them!) and follow A Different Kind of Lifeguard on Facebook for more info and inspiration.
How can you help us support A Different Kind of Lifeguard? There are a few ways! Free-will donations are always graciously accepted. We also offer $5 for $5 coupons when you make a purchase at Chelsea's. You have the opportunity to donate $5 to ADKOL and, in return, we will give you a $5 Chelsea's coupon to use towards your next purchase. Finally, every single time we host an Empowerment Event at Chelsea's, 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales are donated to our yearly charity. You can find our upcoming Empowerment Events right HERE (our next will be in March! - more to come on that).