Local artist, 6, shares talent to spread kindness in Eau Claire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local artist, 6, shares talent to spread kindness in Eau Claire

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - One of Eau Claire's littlest residents is making a big impact on the community by spreading kindness through art. 

Avery Leiknes, 6, is handing out original works of art for people to share with others as an act of kindness.

"I decided to do this because I want people to be kind to other people," Avery said. "I draw a drawing for them and I say 'Please give it to someone and be kind to them.'"

She can draw anything from butterflies to lions, but flowers are her specialty, though her kindness isn't just for humans.

"I once high-fived a bumble bee," she proudly told News 18. "Be kind to the whole world and don't litter stuff." 

Avery said she was inspired to draw by her dad, local artist Jed Leiknes, who died last December. 

"He was an artist and I loved his drawings," Avery said. Once, he kind of used stinky markers to color Pikachu right here." 

"A couple weeks ago, she came outside. I saw her dragging a big dinner room chair down the steps and I said 'What are you doing?' I wanted to help. She said 'I want to make art for people, like my dad,'" said Amanda Mondlock, Avery's mom. "Her dad passed away in December, just before Christmas, and he was an artist."

Though Avery's dad is gone from this world, his family knows he lives on in his kind, caring daughter. 

"Her dad would love it. Her dad would be right here next to her. He was always drawing with her, he was always teaching her how to draw," Mondlock said. "He was always drawing funny cartoon characters with her. His art is his legacy and I just know, wherever he is, he just absolutely loves that she's doing this." 

She also has a tip jar sitting at her table. She said she will use any tips she gets to buy more art supplies.

Before Avery's dad passed away, the family said he struggled with his mental health. So in honor of him, and Mental Health Awareness Month, they want everyone to know they don't have to go through dark times alone. 

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If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, health experts say it's vital to intervene and get help. They say some warning signs may be: 

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Experts say the more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Though warning signs are associated with suicide, they may not be what causes a suicide. They say if you notice these behaviors in someone you love:

  • Do not leave the person alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

If there is an immediate threat of harm, they say to call 911. Otherwise, below is a list of resources in our area that can provide help:

  • Northwest Connections Crisis Line: 1-888-552-6642
  • HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital Outpatient: 715-717-5899
  • HSHS Sacred Heart - The Healing Place: 715-717-6028
  • L.E. Phillips - Libertas Treatment Center: 1-800-680-4578 or 715-723-5585
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Marshfield Behavioral Health: 715-858-4850
  • Mayo Health System Outpatient: 715-838-5369
  • Chippewa Cty Mental Health & Recovery Services: 715-726-7788
  • Chippewa Valley Free Clinic: 715-839-8477
  • Open Door Clinic: 715-720-1443
  • Wellness Shack: 715-855-7705

Even if you don't like talking on the phone, help is still on the way. People can text 'HOPELINE' to 741741 or visit the Center for Suicide Awareness online. 

There are also resources available to people who have lost someone to suicide. The 'Handbook for Suicide Survivors' can be found HERE. The Eau Claire City-County Health Department also offers QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training for free. More information can be found HERE.

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