An international mental health program is helping students at a D.C. charter school feel seen and empowered.
The 8-week program, called the “Art to Living International Youth Alliance Workshop Series,” uses creative expression to promote positive mental health.
Students heard stories of struggle, forgiveness and self-worth from people, finding their own silver lining in the process.
“My silver lining was hope and to never give up, because during the pandemic I thought I kind of gave up, but I kind of pulled it all together during the program,” said Kyriah Carmicheal, a ninth-grade student at the Richard Wright Public Charter School in Southwest D.C.
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Kyriah struggled with her mental health during the pandemic, but through the program, which also connects students at her school with their peers in Ghana and Brazil, she has found hope.
“If you’re going through an issue, maybe you don't want to talk about it, maybe you just want to feel like you can relate to someone else,” said Brittany Dimyan, the creator of the program.
Listening to other teens across the world talk about the same problems she had was eye-opening for Kyriah.
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“I was really shy at first, but then I decided to open up once I heard other people’s stories,” she said.
Dimyan hopes students leave the workshop having empowered each other. She plans to bring the workshop to more schools in the area and around the world.
“That’s what this is all about is helping each other finding that silver lining, not feeling like you’re alone,” she said.
Kyriah left the workshop feeling more empowered than before she attended.
“It really helped me with my social anxiety and my depression, so I think I’ll be able to be more social next year,” Kyriah said.
The program has been critical to students’ mental health, according to Helen Compton-Harris, the school’s director of outreach partnership and development.
“They need to have some inspiration, some belief that things are going to get better,” Compton-Harris said. “We’re going to get through this and we’ll come out stronger than before.”