FARMINGTON – A group aiming to shed light on abuse, missing people and lack of mental health care is gaining traction and members in San Juan County, with 135 people joining in five days.
The group is called “Project Pass It On” and is described by founder Crystal Eve Osborn Cooper as a collective of people who “choose to exercise our right to not remain silent” about local issues including potential corruption within local and federal government.
Cooper said she started the group for multiple reasons, including growing suicide rates of teens, lack of mental health care and seeing “repeated sex offenders walking free.”
“The missing Indigenous women and men from the Navajo Nation are barely a blip on the radar, although the numbers are staggering and unfathomable,” Cooper said.
The goal of the group, Cooper said, is to make San Juan County “safe for the generations to come.”
“I knew it was time for me to relive my own experience in hopes that others would be brave enough to come forward as well,” Cooper said. “So many of us have just suffered silently.”
Cooper made a Facebook post July 21 and has since recruited 135 members.
“I am so immensely proud of each person who has messaged me,” Cooper said. “I know how difficult it is coming forward in complete bravery, recounting their stories. I love the hope that each of us show, thinking that finally, we might be heard. We have not and will not give up.”
Many of those members reached out to Cooper with their own stories of struggle and abuse and have said they want to speak at a meeting coming up.
“The goal is us sharing our stories, building a foundation of trust and becoming a family, not just a group,” Cooper said.
The meeting will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Minium Park in Aztec and will be livestreamed on Facebook for those who cannot attend.