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Youngsville sophomore on Mental Health Awareness Month billboard: ‘Everyone has an angel’

Olivia Goss’ billboard will be at Rt. 6 near Mohawk until May 17

Olivia Goss is a sophomore at Youngsville High School.

She plays basketball and softball, and even the ukulele. She’s also a cheerleader for the Warren Dragons football team.

If you haven’t already noticed her passion in any of those avenues, check out her billboard on Rt. 6 near Mohawk through May 17.

“I do put a lot of depth into what I’m saying because it’s important to remember that you have someone and you’re not alone… I try to go ‘over the top,’ even if I think it’s too much,” she said.

Goss is among six students from Warren County School District chosen to have their artwork displayed on a billboard for Mental Health Awareness Month in May through a contest by CORE (Choosing Openness Regarding Experiences) and Lamar Advertising. The Times Observer is introducing readers to all six.

Olivia Goss

Goss has never entered a contest for her artwork before nor has had this big of a platform, but given the chance she didn’t hold back.

“Art, to me, is a way to express how I feel and how I see the world, and take a moment in time to put what you see or feel in a form, of shape and color,” said Goss.

“For my billboard piece, the black represents how some people feel, like they are alone and have no one they can talk to,” she said. “The words represent what people feel, and deal with day to day. The wings represent what helps them through life and tough times. I came up with the idea because everyone has an angel helping them, even if they don’t believe it. The words are white because they stand out even though, in real life, some people are not open to share what they feel. It represents what a person feels but wont tell anyone and there are people here to help and listen. To me, mental health is like the weather, it could be nice one day, bad the next. You can never know how you will feel in a week’s time or tomorrow; you feel like you have things under control but, after a while, you realize you don’t have a good grip on it. But it all takes time.”

It’s important to know that, with all these artists, this wasn’t just a class project. Goss said she puts her whole self into “everything.”

“Stress,” “Trauma,” “Anxiety,” “Overreaction.”

And the angel.

“I have never met my grandmother,” said Goss, “but I feel her there, and not too long ago my uncle passed and I know they are looking over my family.”

That grandmother — her father’s mother — served in the Army and it has influenced Goss to consider a future in the military.

“My grandfather on my mom’s side of the family was in the Army and my grandparents on my dad’s side both served and met in the Army,” said Olivia. “My grandmother made a best friend while stationed in Germany. She was from Oil City and I consider her an additional grandmother. My father served as well so it runs in my family, and it’s something I aspire to do.”

Kari Swanson of C.O.R.E. said she was “excited to have the billboards reflect the view of high school students and hopes that the billboards will be helpful to those that struggle with mental health issues to recognize that it not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of and that there is help out there.”

“It is a trying time currently with COVID-19 and people who haven’t experienced anxiety or depression may be experiencing such for the first time,” said Swanson. “It’s okay to reach out and talk about how you are feeling. Those that do have anxiety and/or depression diagnoses may be experiencing symptoms at a higher degree and, again, it is important to address and talk about these feelings.”

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