January: Students4Good Meetup Recap - Life CelebrationFeb 10, 2024
By: Ashima Nair, Annual Public Relations Specialist | Digital4Good
As we transition back into school after the holidays, it’s inspiring to witness the dedication of students who have actively been working towards making positive changes in their community. Mahtab B. Dastur, Jaya Ande, Aabha Shretha, and Christopher Viza have created remarkable projects that have left a lasting impact. The boundless passion they bring to these initiatives is evident in the amount of effort they’ve invested.
Mahtab B. Dastur, a senior at Klein High School, in Spring, Texas was inspired to create Book2Smiles due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Mahtab faced various challenges during this time, and books became her safehaven during these times. She is a passionate student and strives to create dreams and foster hope in children through the magic of reading.
The organization started with the help of Mahtab’s school librarian, and has now transformed into a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization with a mission to provide every child in the world the chance to own and read a book. A challenge that they faced initially, were the weight of books being extremely heaving leading to more money being needed to ship. However, they were able to solve this by finding partners that were willing to help donate books as well as taking donations.
Taking away from her experience with Books2Smiles, Mahtab advises not to fear "no's," as they are merely roadblocks, not barriers. Once Mahtab graduates, she still plans to be quite involved with the organization, but hopes that she can pass on the torch to her younger brother.
Let’s Think Together
Jaya Ande, a senior at Rock Hill High School, raised in Texas has embarked on a mission to foster awareness and understanding of mental health challenges. She is the founder of Let’s Think Together, a dedicated website that serves as an invaluable resource for eliminating misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses, including conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Jaya's unwavering commitment to this cause stems from her profound belief in the importance of dispelling misconceptions.
Jaya recognizes that misconceptions on mental illnesses can contribute to stigma, discrimination, and a pervasive lack of comprehension among those who struggle with these conditions. To combat this, Let's Think Together offers a vast amount of enlightening articles addressing these very misconceptions. Moreover, the website features monthly blogs delving into various aspects of mental health and different mental illnesses, providing a platform for education and support.
Let's Think Together exemplifies the power of education, compassion, and collaboration in the fight against the stigma surrounding mental health. Jaya’s tireless efforts inspire hope and serve as a testament to the positive change that can be achieved through empathy and knowledge.
Adjust Teen Stress
Aabha Shretha, a senior in Texas, is passionate about mental health and connecting with your personal cultural identity. Adjust Teen Stress stemmed from her own personal issues. As someone who was a very private person, Aabha struggled to share her issues. However, when she finally cracked and confided in her friends, she realized that she wasn’t the only one struggling.
Adjust Teen Stress is a A 501(c) non profit mental health initiative with the goal of bringing awareness to the stress teens face, hoping that not only to start the conversation of what teens face in their day to day life but also offering resources and help adolescents navigate through these crucial years.
Adjust Teen Stress spreads awareness in multiple different ways. Firstly, they hold interviews with teenagers who struggle, professionals in the field, and women in pageantry. Furthermore, they charter clubs at schools as well as collaborating with other organizations. Lastly, they hold various series on their instagram, including
- mental health in media (movies , podcasts, and books)
- analyzing mental health quotes
- presenting on stress in multiple schools
Thinking out loud
Christopher Viza, a senior at Northside College prep, in Illinois, Chicago is passionate about disability justice, schizophrenia, and erasing a stigma behind adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Not only has he done an AP Capstone program which focused on mental health in the prison system and transitioning into adulthood, he also started an organization : Thinking out Loud.
As someone who had a background in people around him struggling with mental health challenges, Christopher wanted to create a safe and open space for students to participate in activities pertaining to bettering the mental health of the students; with the primary goal is giving students a substantial way of learning about how to find a balance between schoolwork, family, and mental health. In each session that Thinking out Loud holds, they receive anywhere between 25-30 people attending.
They have held brain-stimulation workshops, been featured in citywide mental health videos (which has received recognition by Chicago’s mayor), and collaborated with other non-profit organizations. Additionally, they have created a curriculum over the summer that utilizes all the values, and have distributed them into units for other schools (in Rhode Island and Texas) to be able to create their own Thinking Out Loud organizations.
To recap, Mahtab, Jaya, Aabha, and Christopher are vital examples of young individuals who have not only made a profound impact in their community, but also in other communities. Their passion, dedication, and innovative initiatives serve as beacons of hope and inspiration. As they continue to grow and evolve in their respective journeys, they remind us that positive change can be sparked by a single person with a powerful vision.
Here are our top three takeaways from this event:
- Diverse Approaches - Each of these students have taken a unique path to assist others and offer resources to support many
- Strength in unity - The students from the webinar stress the importance of building tight-knit, understanding communities where everyone can openly discuss their personal experiences and/or challenges
- Don’t be afraid - Starting your own project takes a lot of courage, but don’t be afraid because the end result is going to impact so many people
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