A mental health fashion line aims to raise awareness during NBA All-Star weekend

Akron-born actress Melina Kanakaredes models the clothing line in an advertisement in downtown Cleveland. [Courtesy: Ohio Guidestone]
Akron-born actress Melina Kanakaredes models the clothing line in an advertisement downtown Cleveland at The Metropolitan at The 9 Hotel. [Courtesy: Ohio Guidestone]

If you drive through downtown during the NBA's All-Star weekend, you may notice giant billboards sporting some Cleveland stars on The Metropolitan at The 9 Hotel.

The advertisements on E. 9th Street are part of a campaign to raise awareness about mental health, using a line of designer clothing that will debut in Cleveland this weekend.

There are words like "resilient" and "empathy" on the clothing because the positive words you wear on the outside can impact how you feel on the inside, according to the brand's website. 

Part of the proceeds from the new fashion line "Power of Words" will go to Ohio Guidestone, a local behavioral health agency that provides mental health and substance abuse counseling services.

"We’re a sports town, so we’re combining sports with fashion, and that’s really unique for us," said Arian May, director of advancement at Ohio Guidestone.

“With the increase in suicide rates and overdose rates, making sure that Ohio Guidestone has the funding for the programming for these essential programs to not only meet the needs but to meet the growing needs so no one falls through our fingertips," she said. "We want to be able to meet and reach everyone who needs help.”

Former Browns player Josh Cribbs and his wife Maria, who host a Cleveland television show together, are raising awareness for the campaign. [Thale Blanc]

Deborah Sawaf, the owner of the brand Thale Blanc, came up with the idea for the clothing line while in Cleveland for the NFL draft, May said.

"(Sawaf) and I were talking about mental health, then behavioral health, given Ohio Guidestone and what we do in the community, and she developed an entire brand called the Power of Words, which is dedicated toward giving back to mental health throughout the nation, but also spreading awareness," May said.

Sketches from the  "Power of Words" fashion line show some of the positive messages written on the clothing. [Thale Blanc]

"People express themselves through fashion, so why not make that expression, one that impacts change," the website states. "Fashion leads culture, culture creates change."

The clothing line will debut during a fashion show on Saturday during the All-Star weekend. The show is invite-only, May said. 

Guardians player Shane Bieber and his fiancee, fashion blogger Kara Kavajecz, model shirts from the mental health awareness fashion line "Power of Words."

Cleveland-area athletes and their significant others are part of the campaign, including Guardians player Cal Quantrill and his girlfriend, former collegiate athlete Eastin Ashby; Cavs player Jarrett Allen; NFL player and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown and his wife Sherice; Guardians player and Cy Young award winner Shane Bieber and his fiancee, fashion blogger Kara Kavajecz; and former Browns player Josh Cribbs and his wife Maria, who host a weekday show in Cleveland “Cribbs in the CLE: Josh and Maria Live."

May also encouraged people to donate to Ohio Guidestone directly by texting POWER4OG to 50155.

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