Sean’s House Story Impacts Students

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Sophia M. '25

The sun shines on Sean’s House, located on Main Street in Newark. The blue and yellow stairs represent University of Delaware colors.

Sean’s House is a safe space for young adults aged 14 to 24 who need mental health help or want to learn more about the topic. One year ago today, it was created by SL24 Unlocke the Light, a non-profit organization. They strive to provide a cozy place for visitors to do school work, relax, or grab a bite to eat. Their door is open 24/7, and there is always someone ready to help. Sean’s House’s purpose is to reduce the rate of youth suicide by offering a place for young adults to feel welcome, supported, and safe.

Sean’s House is named after Sean Locke, a University of Delaware student who played basketball there. Sean suffered from depression and lost his battle on July 18, 2018. In remembrance of Sean, the Locke family created SL24, Unlocke the Light.
Sean’s House was Locke’s actual house in college, and the Locke family bought and remodeled it. Sean’s House was founded in 2020, only two years after Sean’s death. The SL24 movement has three main goals: educate, assist, and support. The 24 represents Sean’s jersey number for basketball.

This year, Padua added the SL24 club to its list of offered activities. Their first meeting was held on Thursday, September 23. In SL24, people talk about their interests in possibly becoming a therapist, wanting to help others, or even sharing personal experiences. SL24 is like a mini Sean’s House, where people can express their feelings and everything stays within the group.

Erin Fitzgerald is a senior who balances a job and being a full-time student. Fitzgerald wants to become a therapist and is going to college for psychology. Once she found out about Sean’s House, she said she knew it was the place for her. Later on, she joined SL24 and is now a leader of the club.

Fitzgerald first heard about Sean’s House from her friend who personally knows the Locke family. Fitzgerald said she loves to help others and when she saw the opportunity, she had to sign up to become a peer specialist.
“I suffer from anxiety and depression, and I have since freshman year of high school,” Fitzgerald said.

She felt ashamed to talk about her mental health because she thought it would change people’s perspectives on her. Fitzgerald said it is important to talk about mental illness with others. She wants people to understand that their struggle will not last forever. Fitzgerald said she loves the community and family-like atmosphere that Sean’s House provides.

“There is so much about myself that I discovered through Sean’s House,” said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald believes that the most important thing about Sean’s House is for people to know that they are never alone. Sean’s House works to diminish the stigma around mental illness, especially in young adults and teens, where it is most prevalent. A big part of Fitzgerald’s job is to help others learn that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. She said that Sean’s House has really pushed her to come out of her shell and tell her story.

Bridget Casey ’23 wears her Locke 24 shirt on dress down day. (Sophia M. ’25)

“Depression should not be a topic that is pushed under the rug,” Fitzgerald said. “I firmly believe it is a topic that needs to be talked about openly.

“Sean’s House does a really good job of helping people to be themselves.”

Mrs. Carrington is a guidance counselor in her second year working at Padua, and she is leading multiple clubs including SL24. Some Padua students were interested in the topic, so at the end of last school year, the student council decided that SL24 would be an official club.

Carrington’s favorite part of Sean’s House is the overall experience. She said she loves how it is always open and inviting. Carrington feels that going to a therapist is important, but sometimes young adults do not have the motivation or money.

“Sean’s House is a good place to just sit and be, even if you don’t want to talk to somebody,” said Carrington.

Carrington believes that it is important to talk about mental illness and struggles in life.

“Sean was a nice, happy-looking kid on the outside, while he was struggling on the inside,” said Carrington.

By carrying out their mission, Carrington said that Sean’s House has helped many people and saved lives through a community effort.

“I think it’s important to continue to educate ourselves and others,” said Carrington. “ We need to work together so that there are no longer people that feel like they can’t reach out for help.”

If you want to visit Sean’s House, it is located at 136 W. Main St., Newark. Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255