To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a nonprofit organization that has helped people all over the world with depression, self injury, thoughts of suicide and addiction. The mission began in 2006 and has since reached over thousands.
I first heard about the organization when I was in middle school and have not stopped hearing about its incredible journey since. I think it has reached my generation the most because of the cool and unique ways they get their message out there. They have thrived by helping people in non-traditional forms like hosting music festivals, traveling to schools and universities, and using their social media sites in full force. It is not a charity that just sends people to rehab and counseling, it is a movement that promotes hope by connecting people to different forms of treatment and help.
The TWLOHA’s Facebook page posted this quote by J.K Rowling a few days before their show in Nashville, “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on.” This quote very much summarizes the overall mission of the Heavy and Light Tour. This year was the first time they were able to bring the Heavy and Light campaign outside of Florida, inviting music lovers all across America to an evening of songs, conversation and hope.
Just a few hours before showtime at the Cannery Ballroom downtown Nashville, I got the chance to talk to the music and events coordinator of TWLOHA, Jason, about this amazing tour, and what makes it such an uplifting experience.
NMG: “Before the show starts each night, there is a white board set up with the words ‘Fear vs. Dreams’ on it, what is that all about?”
Jason: “We introduced [the fears verses dreams campaign] 2 years ago on Warped Tour. We wanted to engage people and activate people and challenge people with the question, “What is your biggest fear and greatest dream?” We try to post them on our web page and that forms a sense of community, we realize that people have a lot of similar fears and dreams and there is a sense of community and strength in that. It is O.K to be afraid, there are people that struggle in the same way, you are not alone. It ties into the theme of people encouraging each other to seek help and it opens up the doors for those conversations.
NMG: “What was the overall mission behind Fears Vs. Dreams?”
Jason: “The whole idea of this campaign was really to start a conversation that needs to happen. It is so powerful to see the amount of people that have tweeted in their own photos and tonight we will have a photographer specifically for this. We try to post them all on our site.”
NMG: “The name of this tour is Heavy and Light, what was the goal behind this tour for TWLOHA and what is the meaning behind the name?
Jason: “Because this isn’t a benefit show, our goal isn’t to raise a million dollars, it is to reach people where they are, and to speak to them and to start a conversation. The whole idea behind Heavy and Light is that a lot of the topics we talk about can be really heavy; depression, self injury, addiction and suicide, they are not topics you would bring up at dinner. The evening surrounds those issues but also the idea that there is hope and these artists talk about finding help.
NMG: What do you think the people in this crowd that are going through a hard time will take away from this show?
Jason: “We have a resource list that is local to Nashville and if anyone here is struggling and needs resources whether it’s for them or a friend, they’ll have a list that we compiled to encourage people to seek help. There is heaviness in the evening with the issues we talk about, but then the light is the great music, the hopeful conversations and hopefully the light will continue on afterwords. We are really fascinated by the heavy and light contrast.”
NMG: How did you guys bring these particular artists together for this tour? (Jon Foreman, Fiction Family, Aaron Gillespie of The Almost, Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer, Now Now and Noah Gundersen)
Jason: “Jon Foreman was a no brainer. He was actually one of the first people to wear a “To Write Love On Her Arms” t-shirt. All of these artists that are here tonight are connected with our mission on a personal level. We choose these artists, or they choose us because their music connects with our mission in such a great way, or who they are as people connects with our mission, and they way that they speak to people through their music and the emotional connection they have to their fans through their music is why we choose these artists.
NMG: In your opinion, what is the most unique part of the shows on this tour?
Jason: “Even though I get to see this show every night, I am still so in awe and I can’t help but be moved by it. I think that is my favorite part, getting to see people moved by it every single night because that means we are accomplishing what we are trying to do. Hearing the stories and reading the emails from people who have come to the show and have been moved has been pretty incredible too. I have the opportunity to bridge the gap between someone who is struggling and the help, and so getting to be that encourager every day has been great.”
NMG: What do you think has been the biggest contributor in getting the word out there for TWLOHA?
Jason: “We’re not afraid to talk about these issues, we’re not afraid to talk about how bad things can be but at the same time we’ve heard countless stories about people who have been through the dark but have found redemption through treatment, counseling, talking, and so I think that in itself is what has allowed us to reach so many people and on top of all of that we have all of these artists that have supported us and believed in us and have worn our t-shirts on stage. That all has contributed in spreading the word.
NMG: What can we tell our readers to do to help benefit this amazing cause?
Jason: “We have a level of involvement for everyone in their age group, we have a street team that people can get involved in and people can volunteer at our events. Above all, it’s all about working to affect a change in your community, opening the doors for hope, and starting a conversation.
The show that night went on to being one of the most inspiring and emotionally moving musical experiences I have ever seen. Perhaps one of my favorite moments of the night was when founder of TWLOHA, Jamie Tworkowski, came on stage to speak to the audience and said, “Thank you for being the first sold out show on the Heavy and Light tour Nashville! We didn’t even sell out Florida and we’re from there! Maybe we will move to Nashville, who knows!”
This was a proud moment for me and for all the locals that where there that night. Nashville has proved we are a strong supporting community, and I don’t doubt that To Write Love On Her Arms will be back again for another amazing evening of songs, conversation and hope.
At the show, each audience member was given a pamphlet about the organization and also a list of local treatment resources in our particular city, I have also listed some that were included:
8283 River Rd Nashville, TN 37209
103 Forrest Crossing Blvd
Life Care Family Services
145 Thompson Lane Nashville, TN 37211
Story by Sydney Robinson