Join Teens Educating on Mental Health Action Day!

By Lauren Bigley, Member of Co-Lab Mental Health Hub

Thursday, May 19, 2022, marked the second annual Mental Health Action Day! MTV Entertainment Group and Mental Health Is Health, as well as various partners, are working together to spread awareness for mental health - but more than that, to shift from awareness to taking action. Here at the Global Co-Lab, we couldn’t be more excited!

What is Mental Health Action Day?

The first Mental Health Action Day was on May 20, 2021. According to the Mental Health Action Network, more than 1,400 nonprofit organizations, brands, government agencies, and leaders from 32 countries around the world participated in spreading the word. The purpose is to spread the word that people can take action to protect their mental health, just like they can protect their physical health. This year, it’s even bigger and better! 

How can I take part in Mental Health Action Day this year?

Though we all come together to raise awareness of mental health in the month of May, caring for your mental health is something you can do all year long. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Action Day is Connection, so take some time to connect with yourself and those who are most important to you. Every day is a good day to care for your mental health! No action is too small, and even if not every action works for you, it’s important to make an effort. Try meditating, breathing exercises, going for a short walk in nature, journaling, spending time with a pet or a family member, talking with someone you trust about what’s really going on in your mind, or listening to your favorite music. 

Check-in on your friends too – even when people look like they have it all together from the outside (and especially from social media!) most everyone is struggling with something, and a kind word of support can mean the world. 

Most of us are already on board with mental health awareness, but we really struggle to do something about it. Now’s your chance to take the next step and show that you truly care for mental health just as much as physical health!

Encourage teens globally to join our teen-led Mental Health Hub!  We meet weekly to educate and fight stigma.  Email us at


By Spanish Speaking Hub Member Paula Lladós Casalprim

Todos sabemos que es el plástico y lo malo que es, ¿pero nos hemos planteado nunca el daño que nos puede llegar a hacer?. Seguramente mucha gente no tiene idea de lo malo que puede llegar a ser para el medio ambiente y para uno mismo.

We all know what plastic is and how bad it is, but have we ever considered the damage it can do to us? Many people have no idea how bad it can be for the environment and for themselves.

El plástico es uno de los materiales más abundantes en el planeta, ya que es muy fácil y barato de producir, pero a la hora de degradarse, tarda miles de años, siendo exactos entre 100 y 1000. Uno de los impactos más preocupantes del plástico se da a nivel mundial, siendo este la contaminación de mares y océanos. Hay tanto acumulado que se han llegado a formar islas de plástico. Las islas de residuos son gigantes agrupaciones de plásticos en los océanos. Desde lejos se puede observar una mancha enorme en la superficie del agua, pero de cerca se puede comprobar cada bolsa, envase o pieza de plástica que la forman. En el caso de los animales estos se pueden enredar con los plásticos o resultar heridos y en algunas ocasiones pueden acabar muriendo, por lo que se produce una pérdida de biodiversidad importante. De ahí viene la importancia de concienciar a la sociedad de que es indispensable hacer un uso correcto.

Plastic is one of the most abundant materials on the planet since it is very easy and cheap to produce, but when it comes to degrading, it takes thousands of years, between 100 and 1000. One of the most worrying impacts of plastic that occurs worldwide is the pollution of seas and oceans. There is so much accumulated that plastic islands have formed. Waste islands are giant pools of plastic in the oceans. From far you can see a huge stain on the surface of the water, but if you go near you can see every bag, container, or piece of plastic. In the case of animals, they can get trapped in plastics or be injured and on some occasions, they can end up dying, which is why there is a significant loss of biodiversity. Is for this reason that we are talking about the importance of making society aware of it. This is essential to make a better world.

¿Y qué es un uso correcto? Un uso correcto del plástico, es intentar evitarlos al máximo, es decir “prohibir” el plástico en tu vida. Hacer esto es muy difícil, porque casi todos los productos llevan, por eso una buena solución es que cuando vayamos a comprar comida, intentemos coger el mínimo de productos que contengan plástico. Cuando sea inevitable impedirlo y tengamos que usarlo, podemos hacerlo de una manera más responsable y consciente. Una de las maneras es reutilizarlo haciendo un comedero para pájaros, auto regadero para el huerto, lapiceros, vasos, macetas…

And what is the correct use? The correct use of plastic is to try to avoid them as much

as possible, that is to say, “ban” plastic in your life. Doing this is very difficult because almost all products have them, so a good solution is that when we go to buy some food, we try to take as few products as possible that contain plastic. When it is impossible to prevent it and we have to use it, we can do it in a more responsible and conscious way. One of the ways is to reuse it by making a bird feeder, a self-watering system for the garden, glasses, pots, storage boxes, plant pots, kitchen storage, watering can...

Es evidente que los plásticos están siempre presentes en nuestras vidas, pero si cada una de las personas hace un gesto, aunque sea pequeño, podremos hacer que el mundo vuelva a ser como antes de la revolución del plástico.

It is clear that plastics are always present in our lives, but if each person takes the plastic problem into consideration, even a small one, we can make the world go back to the way it was before the plastic revolution.

¡Únete al Hub de Hispanohablantes y haz la diferencia!

Join the Hub de Hispanohablantes and make a difference!




Winner of Teens Dream Video Challenge Publishes Book on Climate Change!

My name is Grace Comerford and I am a 16-year-old from California.  I was a winner of the Co Lab's 2020 Teens Dream Global Changemaker Video Competition and was able to use the $500 grant money to make my dream of addressing one of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality.

On January 2nd, 2022, I published Perry and Friends, a children’s book about global warming.  After winning the competition I was introduced to an amazing network of teens who are willing to help out with any idea you have. It’s an incredible group of supporters that I believe any teen who dreams of making a change should join. I am now the head of the SDG Arts Hub, and a member of the climate hub and wildlife conservation hub. Additionally, I am leading a project to have the CoLab publish a digital book on the SDGs written by teens from the Hubs!  I recommend anyone coming upon the CoLab from the video competition or any other way, to join the hubs! They have been such a supportive group with lots of opportunities for leadership.

Book Description:

Our Earth is in danger. We are at a critical turning point where we can choose our future. The youngest generation will have to be the next problem solvers and help save the world. It's a pretty big task, but we know they can do it.  Perry and Friends is an educational, story-based children's book that introduces the topic of global warming to elementary school-aged youth. Author Grace Comerford, a teenage climate advocate, takes readers through a captivating story where Perry the Penguin and his friends slowly realize the dangers of global warming. But, this is not a sob story. This story introduces the topic of global warming in a way that doesn't make kids fear the future, but be excited to help!

Buy Here: 

Perry and Friends - Kindle edition by Comerford, Grace. Children's Kindle eBooks @

My Website:

Books | Dream Green (


Teens standing by wall

Teens Teach Teens How to Publish Digital Books!

     On Sunday, September 5, teens from the Global Co Lab Network hosted a self-publishing workshop, teaching teens from around the world how to self-publish their own works of writing. A teen member of the SDG Hubs and winner of the Teens Dream Video Competition, Grace Comeford, presented and led the workshop. Grace Comerford has published three of her own books. She is currently writing a book about climate change to educate young children about caring for their environment and to promote climate action in youth. You can learn about her and her books on her website

     At the workshop, participants learned about different options for self-publishing including formatting, distributors, target audience, and art. The workshop gave teens a basic understanding of how to publish their own books, and the decision-making involved in the process. One teen said of the workshop, “...we learned a lot from Grace and her story is inspiring. This information will help me on my book publishing journey.” 

Teens at the workshop were also able to discuss a future project for the Co-Lab that many are excited about: a book about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This book will be a collaboration between all the Hubs that every member can take part in. One teen leader said of the book, “I think that this project will be an incredible opportunity for everyone who participates in it, and I can’t wait to get started!” 

The Arts Hub has volunteered to create illustrations and manage the design of the future book, and each Hub has eagerly accepted the opportunity to create a section of the book about their corresponding Sustainable Development Goal.

Grace, the teen that led the workshop said, “My favorite part of the workshop was definitely talking to people in the Q and A. Everyone had such great ideas and we were able to talk about our dreams and goals for the SDG book project. Thank you to everyone who came or anyone interested in the project!”

The teens behind this workshop really enjoyed being a part of it and are excited to get started on a bigger project that everyone can take part in. The workshop was a huge success, and we hope to hold another one in the future.

If you missed the workshop, don’t worry! You can watch a recording of it here.  If you want to join our Hubs and be part of this cool activity and other efforts please email us at! 

Applying to College 101

Applying to College 101:  Where Should I Commit To? 

By Bushra and Amara Mir, Ambassadors of the Co Lab's Education Hub

Welcome to the third part of the applying to college 101 series! For a refresher, here’s part 1 (choosing where to apply), and here’s part 2 (the application process).   Now that you have already been accepted to universities, comes the difficult decision of picking between them.

If you were accepted to a university, great job! If you like that university and are happy to and able to attend, send in your deposit, and also keep reading for more information on everything you’ll have to do.

If you were not accepted to a university, there are still many amazing options! You can take a gap year to do more things you love, take a break, or explore your options. You can also apply to any of the many rolling admissions universities around the US, as most accept applications into June. You can also apply to a community college and either complete your associate's degree there or apply to transfer if/when you would like to. 

If you have multiple choices, here are our tips on choosing where to commit:

Attend Virtual/Physical Events

  • If you have the chance to, you can tour the university, or otherwise attend the virtual events hosted by your university
    • Touring gives you the chance to see if you like the environment you might be living in
  • This can help you meet admitted and current students to see the student vibe
    • You can also scroll through current student forums of the university to see what type of online presence the students have 
  • You can also learn more about the school from attending lecturers/faculty/admissions staff

Deadlines (housing, deposits, course planning)

  • Housing
    • Once you are admitted, most universities give a May 1st deadline for you to turn in your deposit, indicating that you are committing to the university
      • Note: if you are waitlisted at a university you like better and get admitted off the waitlist, you can inform the university you originally committed to but you will not get back your deposit—let them know in advance you are on waitlists so that the university is not blindsided
    • Universities tend to have their own housing applications due usually in May or June—for universities with less housing available, this can determine if you get a spot, so make sure to fill in the application as soon as you can!
      • You can also look at verified chats or pages for admitted students in your year to see if you want to search for a roommate
    • Most universities will have all of their courses available online and deadlines will vary depending on school
      • Explore the course selections online or by contacting your first-year/student-faculty advisor 
      • Deadlines range from June to August/September
    • If you are completely sure what major you want to do, that’s great! You can cater your courses towards your major (and possibly general education) requirements
    • If you are not sure what you want to study, that’s great, too! You can cater your courses to what sounds interesting while fulfilling your general education requirements. Most universities won’t require you to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year

Appealing financial aid (it’s possible!) - but be wary of the price: can you afford it without debt/loans?

Out-of-state vs. in-state - which is more worth it?

Most importantly, consider “fit” again and gut feeling

  • If your financial situation permits, the university you feel like you like the most might be the best fit for you--
  • You can always try the coin trick. Associate heads/tails with universities of your choice, and flip the coin. If the coin lands and you’re happy with the result, that might be your subconscious favorite. If it lands on something and you still feel uncertain, well, you know your answer. In the middle of the coin flipping, if you felt that you had a side you subconsciously wanted it to land on, there’s your answer, too!

Follow our Instagram and keep up with the blog for the upcoming and past posts!  Join our Education Hub!  


The IPCC Report on Climate Change: How should we respond?

By Carolina Jones and edited by Lana Bess, with the Co Lab's Climate Hub 

After reading the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, it is easy to feel a sense of dread set in. The report confirmed what many of us have known for a while: the climate crisis is real, it is serious, and it isn’t going away any time soon. 

If we knew this already, why does our attitude toward the climate crisis change so much after the report?  Because at this point, there is no denying that we need to act now. There is no doubt about whether or not we can wait to take drastic measures. 

What stood out to me most from the report was the fact that the goal of the Paris Climate agreement is now unrealistic. I had clung to the Paris Climate Agreement as the last hope, a safety net. Our world leaders came together to set this goal and promised to work towards it. Now that keeping the rise in temperature under 1.5ºC is unattainable, it looks like we need to reassess this goal.

Since it is hard to deny the climate crisis right now with the IPCC predicament looming over our heads, many are freaking out about the situation. But we can’t let that happen either. An attitude of “Well, it’s already really bad, so there’s not much else I can do,” won’t take us anywhere. 

I understand that it’s hard not to feel terrified. I stress about the climate crisis, and I sometimes feel helpless in the face of this man-made disaster. 

This is called eco-anxiety, and it is becoming more prominent as more awareness and bad news about the climate crisis spreads. It's important for everyone to be climate optimist if we are going to make any big changes.  When I say ‘climate optimist’, I don't mean that we should just pretend that our climate is fine or that we don’t need to do anything about it. I mean that we need to be optimistic about the changes we will make. We can remain optimistic by taking action.

There was scientific evidence before this report, and the report shows even more proof that we need to act now. I think there is a lot of despair because there is not enough information out there on how to take action. We feel helpless because we don’t know what we can do to reduce global emissions.  

When I was younger, I thought that climate change was a simple problem that could be solved by turning off the lights in my household and making sure the faucets didn’t drip. I believed that if enough people did this, the climate crisis would be mitigated. 

I know now that it is a lot more complicated. We need big actions. Most of our global emissions are from major companies and corporations. I don’t understand how these companies can continue to emit with no thought for the very future of our planet They are making short-term investments; they are looking for profit now and now only. To mitigate the climate crisis, there needs to be some change taken by these big companies to reduce their emissions and waste. 

This makes it harder for us to get involved because we are in charge of the energy we use and the waste we create in our homes, but we aren’t in charge of major corporations that create most of our global emissions. I think that is why so many people feel helpless in the face of the climate crisis.

We need to convince our governments and major businesses to set ambitious goals for reducing emissions. 

That being said, I still turn off my lights and turn off faucets firmly because little actions still help. If we convince entire communities to take energy-saving and conservation measures, we can reduce a large chunk of global emissions. This involves saving energy in your home, eating less meat, carpooling, and much more. 

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is what many are looking to as a way to set new goals in response to the information from the IPCC report. COP26 is a global conference that will be held in Glasgow this year. I hope that the IPCC report will be the wake-up call needed to activate larger and more influential actions taken by countries around the world. We can help make this happen by voicing our opinions to our peers and our government on what needs to change in order to reduce global emissions. 

Taking action is the solution to both the worsening state of our planet and our eco-anxiety. We can lobby our government and corporations to implement new plans to reduce emissions that will meet our goals in the future. We can also help spread the word about small local actions that can be taken together. I hope that we can turn this bad news into a new surge of action. So next time a major report comes out, we can feel good about the future of the planet and the change that we have created. 

Teens globally have and will continue to work to educate and act on this global unprecedented crisis.  Join our virtual teen-led Climate Hub that meets weekly to work towards action with other teens globally who feel as passionate about the climate crisis as I do. Read more about the Global Co Lab’s Climate Hub and join the Climate Hub

Below I have provided some resources for taking action and learning more, and I encourage you to check them out. 

Learn more-

Greta Thunberg - The disarming case to act right now on climate change

Clover Hogan - What to do when climate change feels unstoppable

Read more about the IPCC report

How to take action-

Lobby to your government with CCL to promote a tax on carbon emissions 

Find opportunities near you with Fridays for Future

College essay writing 101: “Allow yourself to write badly.”

By Amara and Bushra Mir, Teen Ambassadors of the Co Lab's Quality Education Hub

College essay writing 101: “Allow yourself to write badly.”

Yup, you heard that right! Writing college essays can be ok.


“Stick with” makes you “stand out” - you don’t have to write the most unique essay ever, just try to be genuine and show your interests and personality.

Write many drafts: “The importance of allowing yourself to write badly”, “murder your darlings” (helpful and engaging book if your local/school library has it: Write Your Way In by Rachel Toor).

Biggest tip, especially with writer’s block: just write and write anything! You never know if a random essay about hating a movie could turn into one you love.

Follow this timeline:

Applying to College 101: Where should I apply?

By Bushra and Amara Mir, Ambassadors of Co Lab's Quality Education Hub

Applying to university, especially in the US, can sometimes seem like a monumental task. However, at the quality education hub, we believe information about the whole process should be made accessible and available for everyone. 

We’ll be starting an “Applying to College 101" series, including to-do lists, possible webinars, helpful articles, book recommendations, and steps for before, during, and after the college application process. We will also include specialized information for international applicants. The information will be a compilation and synthesis of resources online, including experienced students, college counselors, and admissions officers. Catch up through the Teens Dream Co Lab Instagram and through our blog!

Here’s the first installment!  

First, we highly encourage anyone in the process to do additional research and apply where they feel comfortable. These points are not strict guidelines to adhere to, but ideas to help students navigate the process.


  • There are many types of universities that prioritize different values and long-term goals. Make sure to evaluate what your goals are and know that it’s okay to apply to multiple of these categories if you’re unsure about what you would like to do:
    • 2-year (e.g. community college or an associates degree) vs. 4-year universities (bachelors or another specialized degree)
    • large research institutions (provides larger student population, focus on research) vs. Liberal Arts Colleges (LACs) (provides greater undergraduate support, smaller student population)
    • Or vocational, army, and technical schools for your interests
  • You can also consider size, undergraduate support level, campus setting and culture (rural vs. suburban vs. urban), diversity, and other extra priorities (e.g. housing, greek life/party culture, sports, clubs)
    • Note: this would be more important in picking which university you would like to attend, but this can make sure that you would be happy attending whichever university you get admitted to


  • Consider if weather/environment/part of the country you would be in is important for you
    • Safety/crime-level of the surrounding area

Price (loans, no debt, financial aid, etc.)

  • Some schools are need-blind (your financial needs to attend the school are not considered in your application) and some are need-aware (your demonstrated financial needs are considered in your application) 
    • Note: most universities are need-blind for US citizens or legal residents but are need-aware for international students 
  • Out-of-state (more often more expensive) vs. in-state price (more often cheaper)
    • Public universities tend to be cheaper and private universities tend to be more expensive
  • Consider if you want to take out student loans, or if not, apply to universities that can provide merit scholarships or meet full demonstrated need if you’re admitted

Academic thresholds (25-75th percentiles of test scores/GPA) 

  • These are not restrictions, but possible indications of what scores the students who choose to attend have achieved
  • Try to be between the 25th and the 75th percentile in GPA and/or test scores for the universities you apply to—these are the score ranges that show up when you google “___ university/college [sat/act/gpa] scores”

Availability (and strength) of programs that you want

  • Focus on STEM vs. liberal education - which one do you want?

Good range of schools that you like

  • Based on admitted student academic thresholds, make a list of at least...
    • 1 safety school(s) (schools where you are above the 75th percentile)
    • 2 target/match schools (schools where you are within the 25th-75th percentile and have a similar profile with other admitted students) 
    • Possibly reach schools (schools with selective admission rates and/or schools where you are below the 25th percentile for) 
      • especially relevant during COVID as admissions for universities became more competitive
  • Make sure to find safety schools you would genuinely want to attend, as the college admissions process can be unpredictable

Rankings can be a good starting point but they are not the end-all-be-all—rankings tend to measure graduate research output and other factors, not the quality of undergraduate education, so they are very skewed

How to find more universities you like

Follow our Instagram and keep up with the blog for upcoming posts!  Our next blog in this series will be on the application process!

Women of Color Artist Event hosted by Gender Hub

By Olivia Romito and Sejal Singh, members of Gender Hub

On Sunday, April 25, the Gender Equality Hub and the Arts Hub hosted a virtual Women of Color in Art Webinar. The Gender Equality Hub is focused on fostering a conversation about gender equality including issues such as toxic masculinity and finding ways to empower women of all different identities. The Arts Hub’s main objective is to partner with other hubs in order to use art as a catalyst for change. This event was an amazing collaboration between these two hubs and addressed many different, important issues. Both of the artists were amazing, and they allowed us to look at their art and even gave us insight into their artistic process. It was great to hear about the struggles and opposition that these women faced, and how they were able to push through adversity to pursue their dreams.

The first artist who spoke was Hilltop Wright. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design from Howard University, where she graduated in 2016. She does not like to define herself as having just one profession: rather, she says that she is an artist, architect, and placemaker. She currently works in an architecture firm in downtown DC. A lot of her work is centered around schools, and she recently was given a whole block to work on. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Hilltop took the initiative to help artists who were hurting. She provides a development program for artists, and recently she organized a parking lot mural for people to come together and “express their voices via a parking space.” She wants to help her fellow artists find their voice, as she knows how difficult that can be. Hilltop considers herself to be a freelance artist, and she dabbles in a little bit of everything: flower umbrellas, illustrations, and paints just to name a few. When asked about her experience as a gay woman of color, she admitted that she has struggled with her self-image and even mentioned that she, “struggled with not being taken seriously by others, especially male artists.” Having experienced discrimination based on her gender and sexuality, Hilltop explained how it is important to persevere, even in the face of adversity. She then began to describe the main focus of all of her art: women. She loves to paint and draw women, but there is something very unique about her artwork: she does not paint skin tone. One quote that really stuck with me was, “We are already living in a world that is so biased. I don’t have time for that.” The sad truth is that we live in a very divided world, and by making the unique choice to paint without skin tone, Hilltop hopes to do her part to bring people together and to fight racial injustice. 

The second artist who spoke at this event was Ameya Okamoto. She is currently a second-year student at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She is an artist and organizer based in multiple cities across the country, including Portland, Boston, and Washington D.C. Her mentors have encouraged her not to focus on just one thing, which is why she never limits herself. Growing up, she attended many different events with her family, and because of these experiences, she became a leader of many organizations and clubs in high school. One of the most empowering moments in her life was when a friend passed her a megaphone during an activism event because it showed her that her voice matters. After this, she purchased a megaphone and covered it with her artwork. As a woman of color, society tends to suppress her voice, but this megaphone serves as a reminder that her voice is powerful and can induce change. She encourages everyone to purchase a megaphone so that they never forget the influence that their voice can have. She loves using her voice and art to bring people together, which is reflected in her numerous community art projects.  Her work largely concentrates on social justice issues, and she uses art as a way to respond to events that happen around her. This past September and October, she was one of the artists that worked on the AAPI Black Solidarity Mural located in Old Town/ Chinatown. This was a great way to involve the community and use artwork to inspire social change. She has partnered with many different social justice organizations to use her artwork to make a difference. Her main medium is digital art, and she creates self-portraits, infographics, murals in communities, and more. She also works individually with families who have been greatly impacted by racial violence, and uses art to help them heal. She first heard Toni Cade Bambara’s quote “the role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible” at an equity clinic in high school, and it has been her guiding motto ever since. Based on this quote, she founded the organization IRRESISTIBLE, which is focused on making social change accessible to everyone. She hopes that her art can invite more people into the conversation about social justice. 

Q & A:

Q: What does art mean to you?

Hilltop: To her, art means freedom, opportunities, and experience. Overall, art gives her “good vibes.” 

Ameya: She believes that art can be whatever you make of it, and it is all about just expressing yourself. What truly makes a piece of art is the intention behind it and its ability to express some sort of idea, or process, or vibe. 

Q: How is your identity important in your work?

Hilltop: In her work, a lot of the time it is a reflection of herself. She paints women of color, and she sees herself in each of her pieces. She feels very vulnerable when she paints, almost as if she is giving a piece of herself away.

Ameya: She once took a course on complex personhood, which is the idea that each person has their own experiences and identities. Art is all about creating a sense of complex personhood, and she tries to create art that expresses the complex personhood of herself and others. 

Q: In consideration of racism and sexism that has been prevalent for centuries, do you have advice for rising generations of women of color when it comes to overcoming challenges (in the art world or general)?

Hilltop: It is very important to find support from others, and to support others as well. She would not be the person that she is today without the connections she has made and the people that motivated her.

Ameya: Hope is the most powerful thing you can give someone. It is extremely important to hold onto your hope and find community. She also believes that once one milestone is reached, we must always be thinking about where we can go from here and what milestones we can reach next.

Q: What drives your art and how did you get started? 

Hilltop: She did not take art seriously until her senior year of college, but she had always been a very creative person. She wanted her voice to be heard, and she thought that the best way to express herself was through art. Women rule the world, and she wanted everyone to know that. She was really inspired by women’s empowerment, and most of her work is focused on that.

Ameya: She says it is hard to identify something specific that got her started. Like Hilltop, she also feels as if she is getting a late start in the game, and part of this may be because she is a child of immigrants and a woman of color. She is thinking about transferring to art school and realizes that there is no correct way to do life and that you cannot strategize your way into art. External factors such as white supremacy and capitalism make it feel as if there is a timeline to get things done, but this is not the case. She wants everyone to remember that the art world picks and chooses who we pay attention to, and just because nobody is paying attention to your art, it doesn’t make you less of an artist. 

Overall, there were many important takeaways from this event. It was extremely empowering for young female changemakers. The speakers showed us how to power through adversity and challenges, and to speak up for what we believe in. They made us realize that everybody has the capability of becoming an artist, and in fact, we are already artists. This idea can be translated to other aspects of life, showing us that we have the capability to follow our dreams and create change. It was also incredible to see the passion that both artists had for their work (both the artwork itself and their efforts to encourage social change). Hilltop and Ameya were very motivational, and their words provided guidance for all of the attendees. We learned many important life lessons, and their powerful words will stick with us as we follow our dreams and strive to become changemakers. 

You can learn more about Hilltop by checking out her Instagram account @hilltop_high. She encourages anyone in the D.C. to get involved with the parking lot mural. To keep up with Ameya’s work, you can follow @ameyamarie or @artistirresistible on Instagram. She hopes that everyone will buy a megaphone to remember that their voice matters. 

A Word on Bullying...

By Aakash Palathra, Member of the Co-Lab Mental Health Hub

Imagine a dark, dark prison, where you feel like you could never get out of the endless torture. Day after day people would come to torture you taking your soul away from your passions. Despite your pridefulness making you unable to falter, it was just fuel to the embargo, making the insults harsher, the duration feeling like eons knowing I would never tell anyone, that I would “fight on”. I had to go through this constantly during elementary school and constantly pondered the value of my own existence. I was shackled in the worst time of my life but worse, I lost a portion of my childhood.

I remember getting beaten up, insulted, experiencing lacerations not only to my body but to my mind. I remembered getting insulted, separated, shoved, kicked, slapped, racially slurred. Slowly the darkness accumulated around me as my teachers went away, my friends went away, my parents could not help me despite all their efforts. They were gone, gone, gone. I got framed for things I did not even do; people were spared when they should’ve been punished. Slowly the dark wrapped around me like a veil separating me from the outside world. My own “friends” made an account that poured hatred against me. The darkness kept covering. I questioned myself. The common understanding of me at the center of all this trouble. The darkness kept covering.

An immensely painful thing about bullying is that it spreads, giving individuals usually two options - to become the bully or the nonchalant bystander. Most were bystanders yet it was painful seeing the handful of bullies. Hatred spreads like a plague - you either rid it from you or let it fester to spread it to others. It fills your mind with motivation and incentive only to fulfill its goal, to hurt, to make one suffer. It feels wrong, illogical, for the bully not to bully because this hatred is a parasite, relying on you to make their dreams a reality. If not...

Yet, somehow, I survived these horrific elementary school years. Thankfully my outrageously large ego spared me from any worse actions or thoughts.  It could’ve gotten worse for me, but as I stated earlier it had a cost. They knew they could do it because they knew I wouldn’t tell anyone, ask anyone, get help from anyone.

The last but most important thing I had was support. That was the light that reached me from beyond the dark veil. Though my parents found it difficult to help they tried to comfort me during these frustrating times. I had a couple of friends that I desired to continue fighting for. I had the belief that somehow the dots, the stars would align and I’d be able to escape from the prison. After elementary school, I had that break to be able to go to a new school. This was one of the most fortunate periods of my life. But it might not have happened. I may not have been lucky.

Regardless of the happiness, I obtain now I will forever be scarred by the bullying I experienced within my life. I find it hard to trust people I don’t know for long periods of time. I tend to avoid social cliques with certain criteria, and I find it hard to converse with others.

To the bullies, it’s a parasite and you must rid it from yourself. It will ruin your lives and it will be the only thing you focus on. To the bullied, it’s hard and you will need support whether it be internal or external. But if you are able to overcome it, you will be unstoppable.

If you are a teen and want to help reduce the stigma around mental health, join our weekly meetings virtually led by teens with adult mentors. Sign up for our Hub orientation here.