On April 3, 2021, Samuel Yeager lost his life during a psychotic episode. He was 23 years old. His mother, Whitney Yeager of Monument, feels strongly that had Sam felt comfortable asking for help, or had the ability to acknowledge his mental health struggles, he might have received psychological support and would still be alive today.
To honor Sam’s life on the first anniversary of his death, and to remove stigma around conversations about mental health, Whitney — a trained professional photographer — has created a photo exhibition. NAMI Colorado Springs is supporting The Sammy Project, and we would love for you to see it.
The Sammy Project will be shown from noon to 6 p.m., on Saturday, April 2, at Katy Tartakoff’s Photo Gallery (Studio 800) at 800 E. 19th Ave., in Denver.
Fernando, one of the local people featured in The Sammy Project.
Sponsored via the Array Parity project, with funding from RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver, the show features Whitney’s portraits of young people who have experienced mental health challenges. Each photo subject pairs their portrait with a personal statement that confirms their identity is not defined by their diagnosis.
“It shows strength and courage on the part of the participants to share their stories,” Whitney says. “I hope others who might be experiencing similar struggles see that being vulnerable and seeking help is actually the strongest thing they can do.”
“Self-stigma is so often a challenge for those struggling with a mental health diagnosis,” says NAMI Colorado Springs executive director Lori Jarvis-Steinwert. “Whitney is going to help others by addressing that part of her son’s journey — and by elevating the stories of others who have faced the same challenge.”
It's an honor for us to support Whitney’s work. We’d love to see you in Denver next Saturday, but you can also check out The Sammy Project online.
And please note that Whitney is still looking for photo subjects, with the intention of creating a book from The Sammy Project. Anyone interested in participating, or in finding out more, may email her through thesammyproject.com.