NJ's OutreachArts Promotes Teen Mental Health Issues

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2013 marks the 10th Anniversary of teen drama series, MAPLE AVE & its 5th Emmy Nomination.

"Teen mental health issues were all but ignored on television. I wanted MAPLE AVE to help turn that around...”

NJ filmmaker, Richard Wilson has reason to celebrate over the next month. Not only does June 21st mark the 10th Anniversary of his company, OutreachArts' award-winning teen mental health series, MAPLE AVE - but on the evening of June 1st the best-selling DVD series will be up for three regional Emmy Awards. (The series has been airing on numerous PBS affiliates nationwide since 2003, and was even featured on popular cable channel IFC back in 2007.)

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since we made ‘Jenny’s Reasons’, “ Wilson recently said, referring to the first MAPLE AVE film (focusing on teen depression). “I was so determined to tell that story, because at the time teen mental health issues were all but ignored on television. I wanted MAPLE AVE to help turn that around...” Working with students and staff at Lindenwold High School (in Lindenwold, NJ), Wilson and his team at OutreachArts have been doing just that since 2001. For the past 12 years, the school has allowed Wilson to interview students and gain insight into issues that impact them daily, like bullying, self-injury, suicidal ideation, dating violence and many others. Armed with these often poignant real life stories and additional research, Wilson wrote and directed the nine films that make up the MAPLE AVE series (which has received 24 awards and honors to date).

In return for the school’s help, OutreachArts offers Lindenwold students an annual Filmmaker’s Scholarship Award and participation in their Actor Apprentice Program (where select students are given the opportunity to perform in some of the company’s films). “We’ve employed numerous, incredibly gifted Lindenwold students over the years in both MAPLE AVE and our outside projects, “ Wilson said.

All told, OutreachArts has created over 30 mental health awareness films to date, many for non-profits nationwide. In fact, in early June, Wilson will be shooting a teen problem gambling film for the New York Council on Problem Gambling on the very same date as the Ohio Lower Great Lakes Emmy Awards (where MAPLE AVE has been nominated for three Emmy Awards in the Teen Program category). Is Wilson upset he’ll be missing the awards ceremony...? “Not at all - we’re just thrilled to be nominated. Winning would be icing on the cake - but, honestly, I’m just as happy to be baking more cake!”

for more information about OutreachArts & the MAPLE AVE series please visit http://www.outreacharts.com & http://www.mapleavefilms.com.

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Richard Wilson
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