Are you frustrated that you know people who need help, but you can’t do anything from your house?
Tired of the screen?
Do you need a break from TikTok?
Taking care of your mental health can come in many forms. Connecting on Zoom, taking a break from social media, and getting outside are all ways to take care of yourself. But, if you are feeling helpless as you scroll through your IG feed or see the news, finding ways to help others during this time can actually be beneficial to your sense of self and your mental health.
Remember, these are suggestions. The most important thing is that you pay attention to what you have space for and what you need.
Keep reading for ideas to get started!
Who Doesn’t Need $1000?
The VING Project is a national movement giving students, ages 14-18, the chance to create a video to nominate an adult in their life who is currently in need of financial assistance, and if selected, presenting them with a $1,000 check!
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial stress it has created, many of us know someone who has been laid off from their job or is facing more financial stress than usual. $1,000 could make a huge difference in someone’s life, and the nomination process couldn’t be easier!
- Think of an adult in your life who isn’t related to you and is in need of financial assistance.
- The person doesn’t have to be declaring bankruptcy to qualify for the award. The website has many examples.
- Create a two-minute video explaining why you think they deserve the award.
The VING Project accepts nominations year-round and will let you know 30 days from the time of your submission if your nominee was selected as a winner. For more information about the VING Project and nomination instructions, visit their website.
On a personal note: This may not seem like much, but it is extremely powerful for those impacted. I (Lisa Ehrlich, Manager of Community Education at Response for Teens) was the recipient of one of these gifts during my fight with cancer. The money helped, but the impact of being able to give the gift and receiving it still brings me to tears today.
One meaningful way to fill that time is by being an activist for an issue or organization that is important to you!
Activism from home can take a variety of forms:
- Researching the issue
- Sharing articles on social media
- Calling up friends and family members to educate them about the issue
- Signing online petitions
- Calling your congress members
- Finding online communities who are already engaged in activism
Here are some organizations, resources, and virtual events to get you started in your journey to becoming a teen activist:
While we will list a few, there are so many more! Check out the Chicago Youth Activism Network which pulls organizations for youth and run by youth.
Jam for Justice is a virtual concert and fundraiser organized and performed by Deerfield High School students, including our very own Snowball Teen Leader (and lead guitarist), Myles Brodsky! The virtual concert will feature a wide variety of music genres in 14 acts. These teens are not only talented musicians, but also activists in their community! The performers are fundraising for the West Deerfield Township Food Pantry as part of their project. Beginning on May 30th, you can view the virtual concert by searching “Jam for Justice” on YouTube, and if you have the means to donate, you can follow this link to view the food pantry’s wish list or provide a financial donation.
Vote 16 Illinois is a student-led chapter of a national, nonpartisan organization to extend suffrage to sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds in municipal elections. They believe a younger voting age will cultivate lifetime civic participation among a new generation of Americans. They aim to create a critical mass of public support for lowering the voting age in local elections through civics classes, youth political organizing, and social media; engage state representatives in the creation and introduction of the necessary state legislation to expand the vote, and harness the power of habitual voting and civic engagement to decrease long-term voter apathy.
Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) is a youth organizing alliance for education and racial justice led by students of color from across the city of Chicago and Illinois.
Advocates for Youth works with thousands of young people in the US and around the world to fight for sexual health, rights, and justice. They have a long list of youth activism programs in which young people can engage, including campaigns such as Abortion Out Loud, The Condom Collective, Know Your IX, The Muslim Youth Project, Young Women of Color 4 Reproductive Justice Collective, and more! In addition, Advocates for Youth publishes honest sex education curricula, along with videos, blog posts, and other resources about being a youth activist. To learn more about getting involved in a youth activism program and to find reliable sexual health resources, visit their website.
Girls Get Equal is a global campaign demanding power, freedom, and representation for girls and young women. Their website has a long list of youth activism how-to guides, informative blog posts, videos, quizzes, and more. For more information about getting involved and for resources and tools about how to be a feminist, activist, and ally, visit their website.
Lend a Helping Hand
Do you know people who need help? Think about what you can do on the small scale.
- Check in with your synagogue/church/temple/mosque to see how they are reaching people.
- Offer to write postcards to people who live alone or elderly in nursing homes.
- Know a parent who needs a break from their younger kids?
- Offer to lead a virtual activity. Crafts can work if parents can get the materials in advance.
- Read some stories or a chapter
- Lead some kiddie yoga
- Order some funny postcards or send ridiculous letters to people just telling them why you are thankful for them.
- While Days of Gratitude is connected to Judaism and Shavuot, the ideas in it are universal and can be used by anyone! Days of Gratitude is an invitation to partake in an international, week-long, daily expression of gratitude. From May 22-30, the website will be updated daily with a menu of activities and prompts designed to help you and those around you share gratitude. Each day we will focus our gratitude on a different question and explore ways to express it.
Whatever you do, make sure that it is something that fills you rather than depletes you!