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Gaming for Good with Jasper’s Game Day

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Fenway Jones, Founder and Executive Director of Jasper's Game Day, events that raise funds and awareness all year round for suicide prevention with the power of community and RPG games like Dungeons and Dragons.

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A Focus on Mental Health

Fenway started gaming at 11 when her dad introduced her to the Pathfinder First Edition group he was playing with for 20 years. "It was around then that our organization’s namesake, Jasper, joined the group as well," said Fenway. "I played Pathfinder for around six months before switching to D&D. After a year and a half I decided to jump headfirst into DMing. Since then, no one has been able to tear me away from the gaming table!"

Jasper’s Game Day was started after Fenway lost two of her friends to suicide. One of those friends was Jasper, her gaming partner in crime. "I wanted to use the heartache and sorrow that I was feeling to be able to help people in similar situations and those thinking that suicide is the only way out. We strive to communicate that it isn’t, and that the stigma around talking about suicide and mental health in general needs to go away for the sake of progress."

Many of us have experienced gamers in our circle who may be in crisis. Fenway's advice: "First, reach out for help. There are various hotlines and text lines where people can talk with someone and find help. Second, they should touch base with the person struggling and help them understand that they are not alone. The world can make us feel isolated and unloved, but EVERYONE deserves to live and be loved. No one is a critical failure. Please reach out for help."

Organizations looking to help can partner with Jasper's Game Day through a matching gift program. Matching a specific amount during a stream increases donations and participation from the audience. Organizations can also host events, donate products for giveaways, and promote events with their social media.

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Beyond One Day

Jasper's Game Day is not limited to one day. "Jasper’s Game Day has evolved, much to our surprise, from a one-time event to a 365 gathering of the TTRPG community," said Fenway. "We’ve begun going to conventions, where we host Jasper’s Table, as well as our annual in-person event. This past year, it grew the most we’ve ever seen!"

Fenway attributes this to having to host most events online due to COVID-19, but that’s also allowed more people to participate on a global scale. Since the organization started, they've been able to get their 5013c license, grow in size and support, and have been able to recruit volunteers as well as a Board of Directors and Advisors.

No one event is the same, but they all include gamers coming together to have fun, raise money, and open the dialogue about mental health. Events usually include streamed games, games through Discord, and when there isn’t a pandemic, live games. Top DM/GMs run games for fans and gamers alike to help raise money and give an experience to players that might not normally be able to play with famous game masters.

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Gaming to Do Good

Jasper's Game Day does enormous good by funneling resources to mental health organizations. "We’ve consistently donated to the Barb Smith Suicide Resource Network to help provide suicide response training to school staff and counseling to families that have lost students to suicide," said Fenway. "We also donate to Lighthouse for Veterans to help support veterans with mental health issues find help and healing. Our continuous support of the American Association for Suicidology has helped maintain and support the national helpline."

Funds were also donated to the AAKOMA Project which provides mental health support to a wide array of youth, but focusing on minorities and girls in the DC area. Jasper's Game Day also donated to the NotOK App, which allows millions of teens in the USA to create a support network on their phone that they can contact when experiencing a mental health crisis, to keep the app free and maintained. Donations from were used to extend the Teen Lifeline Helpline, which allowed a text line to be added.

"Recently we donated to create and train LOSS Teams in Indiana which are postvention-based first responders aimed at supporting suicide loss survivors," said Fenway. "We have raised over 170k to date and Jasper’s Game Week this May looks to be our biggest event yet! We will have streams partnering with WoTC, D&D Beyond, Paizo, Ardent Role Play, MTD, Hearthsinger and others with games taking place in every time zone. You have the chance to play with some of the best GMs from popular shows like The Dungeon Run, The Sirens of the Realm, and Rivals of Waterdeep! There will also be a huge online convention that covers Adventurers League, Paizo OP, and 14 other game systems."

How You Can Help

You can help too. Visit the Jasper's Game Day website, on Instagram and Facebook or Twitter, or join their Discord, which has games going on almost daily. People can also purchase seats to play in one of their streams, buy raffle tickets or donate. Watching their stream and sharing their events helps spread the word of the Jasper's Game Day mission.

Be sure to check out Jasper's Game Week - Jasper's Game Day for more information about the upcoming mainstream week, Jasper’s Game Week!

"Lastly, tell those you know that they are not alone and they are loved,” said Fenway. “You change a life by taking a minute to touch base."
 
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca



dytrrnikl

Explorer
Nice!! Admirable how the pain of loss was the catalyst for helping others. Another organization you might want to look at is The Bodhana Group. They're a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization based in York, Pennsylvania, who have been advocating therapeutic TTRPGs for over 10 years. They train other therapists and have recently begun clinical studies on therpeutic TTRPG use. My own son has participated in their offerings.
 

TheBanjoNerd

Gelatinous Dungeon Master
Nice!! Admirable how the pain of loss was the catalyst for helping others. Another organization you might want to look at is The Bodhana Group. They're a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization based in York, Pennsylvania, who have been advocating therapeutic TTRPGs for over 10 years. They train other therapists and have recently begun clinical studies on therpeutic TTRPG use. My own son has participated in their offerings.
I'm a Harrisburg local, and the Bodhana group is very visible in the local TTRPG community here. The past few years they sponsored an October gaming event called Save Against Fear that usually draws a decent crowd. They do a lot of awesome work.
 




DougInTx

Villager
I’ve been blessed to be able to participate in a couple Jaspers Game Day events, and they are always so much fun! I’ve had the opportunity to play alongside some amazing people and make new friends, all while helping raise money for a great cause. It’s a win for everyone involved.
 



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