We are asking for $10,000 to host a life-saving AFK Room at PAX West, 2017.
Crowds, schedules, the immediacy of once-a-year events and other stressors common at conventions and expos can be triggers for many emotional issues, especially anxiety and depression. People dealing with mental health issues (and even many who aren't) rely on the Take This AFK Rooms for taking a break and escaping the bustle of a crowded con. If Take This can't reach its funding goal to provide these AFK Rooms, most of the attendees, exhibitors, and staff who rely on these rooms will be left to fend for themselves.
More than a quiet room, the Take This AFK Room is a calming space for people who need it, staffed with volunteers and clinicians who can answer questions and offer support for people who are stressed out. Some visitors simply need a break from the excitement and stimulation of a large event. Others seek conversation about mental health related issues. Still others check in to support us and our mission. We are happy to meet you all.
Since Spring 2014, Take This has hosted AFK Rooms at every North American PAX event, with hundreds of visitors per day. Starting in 2015, the AFK Room has been available at every PAX worldwide, and we’ve brought it to many other events as well.
Over 2,000 people just in 2016 visited AFK Rooms at conventions worldwide. And many attendees tell us they are more likely to attend a con if it has an AFK Room.
Here is what some of our visitors have to say about their experiences in the AFK Rooms:
"I love it... I wish I knew about it earlier."
"AFK room is a godsend."
"It was such a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of PAX. The staff were extremely friendly and very easy to talk to."
"For me, I go into conventions knowing I'll get anxious with the amount of people and flow of things. It's great that this place is available. My boyfriend almost had an anxiety attack from it all but we were able to regain our calm rather quickly in this space. "
"As someone dealing with Sensory Integration Disorder/Sensory Processing Disorder, just knowing there is a quiet and accepting place in the convention center gives me much more freedom and comfort in how far I can push myself in what would otherwise be a pretty hostile (but fun and important to me) environment. Thank you so much."
Where the Money Goes
Take This is a small organization, and we run a tight ship. That having been said, running a traveling mental health educational and awareness-raising clinic year-round, across the globe is an expensive proposition.
We're asking for enough money to fund an AFK Room at all of the shows we attended last year (roughly $10k each), and if we raise $150,000 we can add up to four news shows!.
That covers establishing an AFK Room at the 7 major conventions we attend every year, plus bringing on up to five additional conventions within the next year.
Some of the major conventions where we manage an AFK Room are able to reimburse Take This for our costs (airfare, hotels, feeding people, licensed mental health workers, printing, coloring books, and other materials), but most of them aren't able to do so. And many of the smaller, less well-endowed conventions actually require more of our time and resources. So expanding the AFK Program to new conventions gets real expensive real fast.
Here's a quick breakdown of what it takes to run a Take This AFK Room:
- Assessment: Before even starting to establish an AFK Room, Take This sends an Assessment Team to visit the convention and meet its organizers. There are many factors which might make a convention incompatible with the Take This mission, and this assessment period is vital to ensuring that our volunteers and visitors will get the care and protection they need. The Take This team then conducts a thorough analysis of a given convention, how an AFK Room will benefit the convention's attendees, and how the Take This team can work with that convention's staff to make the show more welcoming to attendees with mental health issues.
- Recruitment: This step is the hardest. For every city where Take This hosts an AFK Room, we must establish a brand new network of like-minded clinicians and begin recruiting and training for staffing the AFK Room. Our AFK Room is fully staffed with mental health care workers, many of them licensed to practice in their particular state. Take This will often recruit a clinical coordinator, someone who is a veteran care worker in their area who can help recruit like-minded clinicians. We then thoroughly vet each care worker to ensure they are compatible with our mission and our gamer community, then conduct a series of training sessions to prepare them for staffing the AFK Room. Many of our first-time clinicians have never been to a gaming convention, and we must prepare them not only for the tasks they will be required to perform for us, but in some cases the disorientating cultural shock of immersing themselves in a convention for the first time.
- Consulting: One of the lesser-known aspects of the AFK Program is our work with convention staffs in training them how to provide basic attention to attendees, exhibitors, and fellow staff members dealing with mental health issues. This training was at one time optional, but has since become mandatory (at our convention partners' requests) at every convention where Take This manages an AFK Room. This training session provides not only basic mental health awareness, but simple and effective techniques and tools for helping everyone have a better experience at a convention.
- Set-up: The weeks prior to a convention, the Take This team gathers its training materials, AFK Room amenities (like coloring books, stress squeezers, facial tissue, etc.), volunteer t-shirts, radios, gaff tape, sharpies, and more, loads up "the Big Box" and ships out to the city where we are working. The Take This team is located all over the country — and so are our materials. Transport (for both people and things) is one of our biggest costs. We must then establish a livable space for our team and volunteers for the week of an event. Our "hard costs" for running an AFK Room (airplane tickets, hotel rooms, clinician compensation, equipment, etc.) average at around $10,000 per show, and in some cases even more. To compensate and feed our Take This staff members during the week spent working and living away from their families adds roughly $5,000 per show.
Which means that to accommodate just the seven events already on our recurring AFK schedule costs Take This over $100,000 per year. And most of those costs are not reimbursed by our partner conventions.
To add additional conventions to the AFK Program requires months of prep work and unavoidable start-up costs, bringing the total for a first-time AFK Room closer to $20,000.
Meeting our campaign goal will allow Take This to attend PAX West, 2017. And if we are able to unlock stretch goals, we can go even further.
What You Get
Our perks for this campaign are stellar. A combination of Take This merch and offerings form our many awesome partners.
Sticker: This is our emblem of hope! Place it anywhere you need a reminder you are not alone.
Psychomancer Pin: The Psychomancer is based on a character created by our friend Kay Fedewa for the Habitica app. It is our protector, and mascot for the AFK Room. This pin was originally designed for PAX Aus 2016 and is a collectible Pinny Arcade pin.
Plush: The Psychomancer! In plush! Hug it, squeeze it, let it bestow upon you the blessing of hope.
Tote Bag: Emblazoned with the Take This logo, the humble tote bag can do all kinds of things — but mostly it will carry your stuff. If you pledge at the Take Everything tier, it will come filled all of your Take This swag, making it far better than the average tote bag.
Exclusive Wyrmwood Hope Shield: The "Shield of Tranquility" was designed by our friends at Wyrmwood Gaming as an exclusive, limited-edition reward specifically for this fundraiser. You cannot get this anywhere else. Made of beautiful Ambrosia Maple and inlaid with soothing Turquoise, the Shield of Tranquility is suitable for carrying in your pocket as a reminder you are not alone, or for giving as a gift to anyone you feel might need hope or tranquility.
New Pinny Arcade Pin: Designed by the geniuses at Penny Arcade, this pin will be available for sale at a future PAX event, but can be yours for donating to this fundraiser. This is a preview of the original art by Mike Krahulik - the final pin design will be revealed soon. This is a collectible Pinny Arcade pin!
It costs around $10k to run a Take This AFK Room. Each year we run 6-8 AFK Rooms around the world, and have plans to expand by at least 4 shows in 2017 alone.
With your support, we can ensure there's an AFK Room everywhere there needs to be.
UPDATE (April 5, 2017): We've decided to share our full stretch goal image because Nissa did such a good job with it! You can see the full scope of our ambition for the AFK Room program, and how far we still have left to go to expand to just six new shows this year. We will keep raising funds even after this campaign, but there's no comparison to the excitement and platform of a Kickstarter. If you have anything to spare, we could sure use your help now!
Other Ways You Can Help
Use Kickstarter's share tools to help spread the word!
AFK Room sponsorships are available! Starting at $15,000 for Single-Show, Global (all shows) or Global Exclusive (exclusive sponsor for all shows),every AFK Room hosted by Take This will bear signage with your name, brand and message. You will be making a major dent in our operating costs, and your generosity will be seen by the thousands of people who visit our AFK Rooms each year. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more about the Take This AFK Room, or emotional first aid certification, please contact: email@example.com.
If you are a mental health care practitioner and would like to volunteer for the AFK room program, please fill out our volunteer form here: http://www.takethis.org/volunteer/
You can also volunteer to help out even if you're not a clinician! Please fill out our volunteer form here: http://www.takethis.org/volunteer/
Ask folks to get the word out and make some noise about your campaign. Remind them to use the Kickstarter share tools!
Risks and challenges
If we raise the funds, we will host the room. We have run AFK Rooms at conventions worldwide, and the initial campaign amount is for an AFK Room at a show we've been to many times. There is zero chance we will fail to deliver on the campaign project, if funded.
Our biggest challenge is to fully-fund the AFK Program for all of our planned 2017 shows. Take This partnered with eight shows around the world in 2016, and committed to expanding our program to help another four shows in 2017.
To fully fund the program as planned for the remainder of 2017, we will need to raise at least $150,000. If we raise less than that, we will not be able to add the four planned new shows. If we raise less than $60,000, we might have to skip some of the shows we've helped for years.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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