For many convention attendees witnessing Nathaniel Ayers receive the Rona and Ken Purdy Award and perform live on the cello and violin was the highlight of NAMI’s national convention in San Francisco.
Ayers’ journey from studying at the prestigious Julliard School of Music to living as a homeless street musician in Los Angeles has inspired The Soloist book and film.
Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times, who continues to chronicle Ayers’ story, and Jennifer Ayers Moore, Nathaniel’s sister, presented Ayers with the Purdy award to honor the courage Ayers has shown in sharing his personal experiences of living with schizophrenia.
Ayers’ story has challenged public perceptions of mental illness and homelessness, encouraging people across the country to replace stigma with understanding.
Following his acceptance speech, Ayers captivated the audience once again, this time with moving performances on both the cello and the violin, two of the six instruments he had brought with him.
Convention attendees viewed a special screening of The Soloist and joined Lopez and Ayers Moore for an audience discussion about their personal experiences with Nathaniel.
NAMI members stood in a long line, patiently waiting for a chance to personally thank Ayers for sharing his story.
NAMI has released "Puzzle Pieces," a new public service announcement (PSA) initiative that encourages people to connect with each other through NAMI to help themselves, their families and their friends who live with mental illness.
The new PSA is helping to eliminate stigma by raising public awareness of mental illness and delivering a message that NAMI offers hope to people as they journey to wellness.
The PSA has already aired nationally during the CBS Evening News and Fox Primetime.
The campaign includes four 60-second and three 30-second radio PSAs featuring testimonials from individuals and families that describe their experiences with mental illness and the role NAMI played in their recovery. The television PSA is a 30-second spot that conveys the support and strength NAMI members give each other. Print PSAs are also available.
To view and listen to the NAMI PSA spots, visit www.nami.org/psa.
Thanks, thanks, thanks for your kind, warm, caring congratulations following the June StigmaBuster Alert, which announced that I would receive the prestigious NAMI Distinguished Service Award at NAMI’s 30th Anniversary Convention Closing Banquet on July 9, 2009.
It was the thrill of a lifetime, awesome and inspiring to learn how you feel about our 12-year old StigmaBusters program. You have a share in my award for your efforts helping us to bust the stigma and discrimination in audio, print or film.
Good health to all!
With deep appreciation,
Because of the large number of StigmaBuster messages received, they cannot all be answered individually; however, we appreciate every e-mail and do review every stigma report and prioritize them for action.
We also appreciate receiving copies of responses. They are important in helping to coordinate strategy and pursue genuine dialogue. You are our eyes and ears! Your help makes a difference!
Please send reports of stigma to Stella March.