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Friends in Need: North Penn student’s Buddy Project inspires hope

No short accomplishment- on April 7th, 2014, Frost won the Shorty Award for Teen Activism at The Times Center in New York City

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No short accomplishment- on April 7th, 2014, Frost won the Shorty Award for Teen Activism at The Times Center in New York City

Steph Krane, Staff Writer

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TOWAMENCIN- To many high school students, the thought that their classmates might be struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm is far from the first thing they think about. However, for North Penn High School junior Gabby Frost, her concern for the mental health of fellow teenagers compelled her to do something to help young people struggling with mental illnesses.

At the age of 15, Frost created Buddy Project, an online program that matches up two strangers in hopes of forming a connection that will provide troubled teens with comfort. Paired up by common interests such as favorite bands or TV shows, participants communicate online with their buddies, providing each other with an understanding friend to talk to and support.

“A lot of my friends I knew both personally and online were suffering from mental illness, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts,” said Frost. The creation of Buddy Project was her way to help these teens, who often feel alone and depressed.

Frost created Buddy Project ( https://buddy-project.wikispaces.com ) on April 8th, 2013, and quickly received over 3,000 sign ups and 2,500 Twitter followers within the site’s first 24 hours.  Currently, over 65,000 people have signed up to be paired with a buddy. Frost also maintains an active Twitter account for Buddy Project ( https://twitter.com/ProjectBuddy ) with almost 65,000 followers, tweeting out inspirational quotes, pictures, and messages on a daily basis.

Many participants have told Frost how Buddy Project has helped them to survive through difficult times.

“I like hearing how many people I can help with my program, whether it’s by my tweets or simply the fact that I paired them and now their buddy is their really close friend,” said Frost.

The program has received online recognition from celebrities such as Demi Lovato and Austin Mahone.

On April 7th, 2014, Frost’s efforts were recognized when she received a Shorty Award for Teen Activism, celebrating Buddy Project’s accomplishments. The Shorty Award, given to people and organizations that have an impact on society through social media, was no small accomplishment.

“It was unreal to think something I created only a year ago was recognized so quickly,” Frost said about winning the award.

Frost’s fellow Shorty Award winners include astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, actress Amy Poehler, and the NASA Goddard Twitter account.

Looking forward, Frost sees Buddy Project continuing to expand and attract a wider audience.
“I see [Buddy Project] being pretty much the same structure, but also being used worldwide and translated into different languages,” Frost said.

Given how fast the program has grown in just its first year, it’s hard to imagine anything other than continued success for Frost.

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Friends in Need: North Penn student’s Buddy Project inspires hope