MADISON, NJ - Madison’s INTOyellow week-long campaign kicked off Saturday with “Pollination,” where 100 community members participated in a multi-generational, interfaith, collaborative public art project by creating and “planting” a community garden of hand-painted flowers; on the back of each flower is an idea of how to brighten the Borough. Jaeger Lumber, Ricciardi Brothers of Madison, the Madison High School PTSO, Madison High School music and arts students, and St. Vincent Martyr Church Troop 6585 Girl Scouts all contributed to the inspirational flowers that grace the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building front yard. The original design of the flowers was created by conceptual artist Uncle Riley, in collaboration with Pantone Color Institute. Julia Ferrenti, President of the MHS National Art Honor Society, helped spearhead the project.

Madison’s INTOyellow campaign recognizes May as Mental Health Month. In Madison, it is a week-long series of free arts, educational and social events that support and celebrate local community mental health resources in honor of the month. All events were developed by a group of community leaders, artists, therapists, educators, students, religious leaders, and senior citizens with the intention to “shine a light on the stigma of Mental Health and inspire community connection through collaboration and creativity.” Among the many participants were the Madison-based Chabad of SE Morris County, the Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corps, The Presbyterian Church of Madison, the Madison Garden Club, Madison High School, the Girl Scouts, the Borough of Madison, the Downtown Development Commission, the Madison Area YMCA, and the Madison Chamber of Commerce and UMEWE.org. Whitny Sobala, Madison INTOyellow Community Volunteer & Co-Founder, UMEWE, states that “It really is a special movement and even more special that Madison is the first town to have piloted it.” She is a brand stategizer and social motivator. She wanted to create a platform to “brighten the world in a unique and public way.”

Mayor Robert Conley had previously proclaimed March 20, 2019 as International Day of Happiness in the Borough and on Saturday proclaimed the week of May 4 through May 11 as Madison INTOyellow week and named as Honorary Ambassadors of Optimism Tricia Armstrong, Cristina Bossini, Alan Coman, Lisa Ellis, Scott Foster, Karen Giambra, Guillermo Gil, Fr. George Hundt, Donna Kass, Sara Keffer, Cara Maksimow, Pat Miller, Anita M. Pacheco, Mia Raho, Gwen Riddick, Whitny Sobala, Lisa Sprague and Melanie Tomaszewski. He noted in his proclamation that in 2012 the United Nations adopted a resolution to bring about  awareness of the International Day of Happiness to raise awareness of the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being and that depression affects over 18 million adults in any given year, is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44 and is the primary reason someone dies of suicide resulting in over 41,000 deaths per year making suicide the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34. The Mayor asked residents to show their support by wearing yellow and participating in the free public events that celebrate optimism and resilience.

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The Girl Scouts of St. Vincent Martyr Church Troop 6585 presented Mayor Conley with “100 Bright Ideas" that the 100 participating community members generated for brightening the town. These ideas included “Smile and give a compliment, more social events for pet owners, have faith and take that first step, more bike lanes, mental health awareness training for Madison First Responders, more community social gatherings, more colorful flowers, art and pictures around town, more outdoor dining, more public recognition of students for varied achievements, and more areas for teenagers to gather.”

Among the participants on Saturday were three generations of one family (all Madison residents) sharing a common positive intention of shining a light on the stigma of mental health: Michelle Goodwin, her daughter, Macinyre, and her mother (who participated in the project via the Civic Center). Michelle, an EMS volunteer, is a first responder for many mental-health related situations in the Borough.

Other activities during the week-long INTOyellow are guided meditation, equine therapy, Qigong, yoga, developing mental skills for well-being, beginner salsa, demystifying mental health, resistance band training, holistic decluttering, clearing and quieting your mind, tai chi, increasing optimism, and being the boss of your own thoughts for children. The week ends on Saturday with the People’s Picnic outside the Madison Community Arts Center.  To learn the dates and locations of these events, see intoyellow.com/Madison or Facebook@madisonintoyellow.