“It was something like out of a horror movie, except it was my life.” – Wesley Chapman, founder of A Human Project.
Wesley Chapman grew up in a broken and abusive family. He was abandoned by his mother as a child, lived in daily fear of being molested, and even tried committing suicide because of his dire circumstances. He felt powerless growing up. Now years later, Chapman has started A Human Project to give kids who are in similar tough situations hope and a way to fight against abuse and neglect.
This story isn’t about Chapman, though. It’s about Ruby, Hunter, Charles and the other 25 million youth who are suffering each year. These kids’ childhood memories aren’t filled with laughter, ice cream and love but instead with abuse, self-hatred and the feeling of helplessness.
Chapman is transparent with his story because it shows suffering kids that they aren’t alone and as one of A Human Project’s shirts say: “I am proof that it’s all okay.”
The Start of A Human Project
Chapman has been speaking to kids in schools and foster homes for eight years about hard topics like suicide, drugs, cutting and abusive parents.
Last April, Chapman went to speak to a group of kids as a spokesperson for Natural High, a teen drug prevention program. When he arrived, the room was packed with over 700 rowdy kids who weren’t interested in hearing what Chapman had to say. Until he decided to just tell them his story.
Afterwards, teen after teen came up to Chapman telling him their stories of abuse. One girl even admitted that she was planning to commit suicide that day. It was at this moment, he decided to leave his marketing agency, which he started at age 19, and help provide a safe outlet for these kids to express themselves by creating a for-purpose organization called A Human Project (AHP).
“I want to make a significant change in the world of youth,” Chapman tells MiLLENNiAL. “I can’t give you numbers of what that means because what number is really greater than one? One less child that commits suicide. One less child that is abused. One less child that is neglected. One less child that is molested. Or one less child that shoots his classmates. Our goal is to reach as many ‘ones’ as possible and spread the message of hope.”
AHP is a community to empower youth and help them realize that they are a product of their attitude and that attitude is a choice.
“The number one thing I love about A Human Project is how everyone cares and they give you hope. You don’t feel like crap anymore you don’t feel like you should kill yourself. You feel happy like you can live on for the rest of your life. You feel strong again,” said Ruby in a video, a young girl who struggled with abuse and cutting but now is living a better life by joining AHP.
A Human Project offers an extensive website for youth to join and learn how to take control of their lives. The site offers free articles and videos that as Chapman says, help teens “shift from being a victim to a hero.” Lessons range from learning how to switch up their room to help them stop cutting to how to confront parents respectfully in tough situations.
“The goal is to give children hope and a sense of a bigger, happier, more purposeful community regardless of where they find themselves physically,” Aaron Young, CEO of Laughlin Associates, Inc., who is on AHP’s board of directors tells us. “The systems Wes has developed for the Internet will end up saving many lives just by giving kids a safe place to go mentally and emotionally.”
The more lessons kids watch the more points they earn to redeem for activities and prizes in the program.
These lessons are truly making a difference in young people’s lives. “They post school report cards showing grades going from failing to A’s and B’s. Accomplishments like learning to play a musical instrument or an art/crafts project. Going from the withdrawn head lowered look to the head held high with pride and purpose” says Frank Shankwitz, founder of Make-A-Wish Foundation, who is also on AHP’s board of directors.
How You Can Get Involved
“Huge visions cannot be achieved in a vacuum,” Young said. “If AHP is to reach its potential, many people will need to get involved.”
That includes you. Here are three easy ways you can help A Human Project:
1) If you have a friend or sibling struggling, introduce them to A Human Project.
2) Help A Human Project financially by donating money or your stuff. Take part in their Human Garage Sale by shipping clothes, toys and electronics to their location where AHP will sell the items and the money made will go to AHP programs.
3) Spread the word. The more people who hear about A Human Project the more kids it can help.
AHP is giving kids the power to reach their full potential and follow their dreams. It gives them the knowledge to become the hero in their own story. It shows them a new way to be human.