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March Student Voices: Disability Awareness and Acceptance, Youth Financial Literacy, and Coping with Mental Health

Every month we showcase some amazing projects students are doing to make a difference in their community. For the month of March, our theme was Being You and focused on self-awareness month, equality versus equity, and self-appreciation. We had Alexis Courtenay as our amazing host, and we were extremely lucky to have three innovative panelists share their work and experiences: Tatiana Torres, Armita Hosseini, and Zandy Wong.

 

Tatiana Torres

Tatiana Torres is a 17-year-old from Brentwood, California who suffers from a chronic illness due to a brain injury. After her injury, she started therapy and learned about coping mechanisms, and noticed how important it was to cope with her specific circumstances. Her experiences sparked her interest in better mental health for all youth. 

 

“What can I do with my experience? I’ll make a website with skills I’ve learned from therapy.”

 

As she started to research mental health resources and websites, she noticed most of them were filled with statistics. But she wanted to focus on providing activities and resources that teach coping mechanisms. When she founded her website Calm4You, she made sure she included more than stats, and you can find coping mechanisms that feature art, music, journaling, and more. 

 

“It's important not to be filled with statistics. They make me feel overwhelmed,” she said. 

 

Along with this project online, she started an interactive mental health poster at her school district called Monthly Beats and is planning on sharing it with many more. Every month, she designs the poster with art and pull-off tabs with QR codes of Spotify playlists designed to help people relax and connect. 

 

“It’s okay to talk about your feelings,” Torres shared as she opened up about her experiences. “You don’t need to be perfect all the time. We all face mental health challenges from time to time. I was struggling and felt like I was the only one having a hard time. If we have a community to talk about these difficult feelings, it will really help our society.”

 

Armita Hosseini

Armita Hosseini is a 17-year-old from Toronto, Canada. She is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker, advocate of youth financial education, and a Digital4Good 2022 winner! 

 

In 2020, she published the book Roadmap to Financial Literacy: An Introduction to Personal Finance for Teenagers, and later partnered with the nonprofit organization Operation Economics International to donate 300 copies of her book to underserved schools in San Marcos, California. Her book demystifies credit cards, student loans, mortgages, savings, and more! 

 

She is the founder of EmpowerEcon, a youth organization empowering youth through finance, economics, and entrepreneurship. She has provided three-day entrepreneurship and financial literacy camps for over 300 students from 36 countries and 5 continents. You can follow her on Instagram @empowercon.

 

“Students didn't come just to learn, they created something tangible to stick with them like a blog or their own business. Branch beyond econ and go to entrepreneurship. I love that they create ideas, share them, and create an impact on others.”

 

Zandy Wong

Zandy Wong is a 19-year-old Asian American disability advocate who studies public health while working as a research assistant at John Hopkins University. She has hearing loss and has since become passionate about creating a world where accessibility is universal and having a disability is acknowledged and accepted. 

 

Her research focuses on exploring the intersection of public health and neuroscience to ensure better hearing healthcare. She also advises the US Department of Labor on creating policies to help disabled youth transition into higher education and work environments. 

 

“Disabilities isn't a bad word. We exist, we want just as much respect as the next person. Ask us what we want.”

 

In her project, NextGen Accessibility Initiative, she partners with Gen Z organizations to make their digital content fully accessible for disabled youth through educational workshops and one-on-one consulting. They work with Gen Z educational, advocacy, and awareness organizations to identify and fix digital accessibility gaps. They have worked with 15 global educational/advocacy organizations and helped create accessible educational content for over 61,000 youth across 119 countries.

 

Her work has been recognized by the NIH/NINDS, Cochlear Americas, and the American Association for People with Disabilities. Her story has also been featured in Teen Vogue, NBC News, and the Washington Post. You can learn more about her experiences and the movement for disability acceptance through her Tedx talk and podcast interviews. 

 


 

We loved how innovative and fun these projects are and we would love to see more in the future. March was a wonderful month to learn how to focus and take care of ourselves and others a bit better.

Here are our top 3 takeaway activities from the webinar that we encourage you to engage with: 

  • Learn more about mental health coping mechanisms to develop the skills to handle emotional and mental challenges. 
  • Learn three new things about how to manage your finances to avoid debt, build your credit, and set yourself up for success in the future.
  • Learn more about how to advocate for accessibility and acceptance of people with disabilities. 

 


 

On May 1, 2022, we are hosting another Student Voices Webinar where panelists will speak about Mental Health Awareness month, self-harm awareness and prevention, and more! We would love to see you there. If you are interested in being a speaker for May’s panel, apply here

Or, if you’re interested in the topics but don’t want to be a speaker, sign up as an attendee, and we’ll see you on May 1!

Attend May Student Voices Webinar

Would you like to speak but can’t this month? No worries! We open up panelists’ surveys every month so apply for the topic that best speaks to you! See the infographic below to see our monthly conversation topics.

 

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