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“My Better World Begins with Better Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy”

EL Education is celebrating Better World Day, an annual, national event showcasing student learning that contributes to a better world. Students present learning projects and engage in acts of service that demonstrate the power of EL Education’s vision for public school: a place where children become great scholars and active citizens with the capacity to make a positive impact. In this series, students and teachers from EL Education schools across the country share what Better World Day means to them.

Hannah is a first-year student studying Secondary Education and English at Clemson University’s Honors College and a graduate of River Bluff High School in Lexington, SC. Hannah is also a member of EL Education’s Student Advisory Council, a group of 12 students nationwide working to leverage their perspectives and experiences to improve education.

Finding Your Passion

I struggled with anxiety and depression in high school.

I was fortunate, though, that my teachers at River Bluff High School supported me and gave me the grace I needed to ultimately pursue mental health treatment. I am now a first-year student at Clemson University, studying Secondary Education and English on my journey to become an educational leader. Still, I hold up the acceptance and support I received from my high school teachers while pursuing mental health treatment as my own unique vision for a better world.

In this better world, our public education system will positively impact the lives of ALL students. We will foster conversations about diversity–embracing and celebrating everyone for who they are. Most importantly, mental health awareness and advocacy will be the norm, and everyone–especially students–will receive the necessary support and treatment for positive mental health.

Using Your Voice

I am actively working in pursuit of this better world.

I am blessed to work on EL Education’s Student Advisory Council, where I have a platform to speak with teachers across America. I use my voice and my platform to help support teachers as they grow their own mental health awareness and advocacy abilities.

I am also educating myself and developing my voice to speak more clearly and confidently about the steps needed to achieve my vision for a better world. For example, I have learned about inequalities in the American education system in my Educational Psychology class. I am also learning to recognize teachers’ power to deliver equitable and inspiring learning experiences, especially for traditionally marginalized groups. I will take these lessons with me as I continue my journey to become an educational leader.

Putting Your Passion To Work to Make a Better World

Each of us has ideas about improving the world, but it can be challenging to find the confidence to act. However, even something as simple or small as holding a door open for someone has the power to make that person feel seen and valued, creating a deep sense of belonging that all people desire.

When undertaking larger-scale projects that impact entire communities, you should seek the help of others. From fellow students to teachers and community leaders, there are resources all around you. Working with peers to dive deep into a common issue will help you to decide the best course of action for the community and facilitate real change. Community issues can seem big, but may lead to significant results when working together.

I encourage my fellow students to find their own passion–to define their own better world–and then actively use their voices to work toward turning that vision into reality. Consider your own personal experiences that helped make you a better person, then ask yourself, how can I inspire and enable others to have a similar personal growth experience?

“Consider your own personal experiences that helped make you a better person, then ask yourself, how can I inspire and enable others to have a similar personal growth experience?

Hannah , first-year college student

Standing up makes you an example of a strong leader, inspiring younger generations to continue the fight. Standing up contributes to a better, more just world, where marginalized people feel seen, heard and valued. You have the power to enact change for a better world–you just have to find your voice. And even if you feel like no one is supporting your endeavors, I’ll be cheering for you in little ole’ Clemson, South Carolina.

*EL Education is proud to host diverse voices and offer a platform for dialogue on topics impacting educators and students. Views of guest bloggers are their own and may differ from the views of EL Education.

To hear more voices from EL Education school communities reflecting on Better World Day, discover blog posts from the series below.

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    Hannah Page Smith