March 15, 2024
Sharing Kindness Summit

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of attending the Hope Squad Summit, held by Sharing Kindness It was a wonderful opportunity for students in the Cape Cod area to speak about being mental health leaders and discuss ways to collaborate. We got to present on our Peer to Peer model and then read two comeback stories! Thank you to Sharing Kindness and Hope Squad for allowing us to speak at this event✨

March 8, 2024
Empowering Women In History

Empowering Women In History

By: Kylee Harris

March is Women’s History Month! It’s only appropriate that we use this month to celebrate and acknowledge powerful important women in history that without, we wouldn’t be who we are as a society today. Their struggles and strength to stand up to injustice will forever be seen and heard as some of the most important history. This month, we invite you to expand your knowledge on some of the greatest women in history. Here’s just a few to inspire you!

 

Annie Oakley (1860-1926):

Annie Oakley | National Women's History Museum

 Annie Oakley (she/her), was arguably THE BEST sharpshooter in her time. From Ohio, at just 8 years old, Annie made her first shot that measured up to some of the adult men in her time. In her childhood and throughout her teens, Annie regularly  hunted in order to provide food for her impoverished family. At only 5 feet tall and 15 years old, Annie  won a shooting contest against experienced marksmen Frank E. Butler who was 10 years older than Annie. Despite inaccurate historical texts, Frank was actually humbled and impressed by her skills. Frank began to spend more time with Annie, and eventually ended up marrying her. Frank, who had a male partner in his shooting shows, invited Annie alongside him as they performed. Whens Frank’s partner fell ill, Annie went on to perform her skills alongside Frank. Soon, she became the star of the show, and Frank took a backseat. Annie went on to have an extremely successful life in a profession once thought of as a “Man’s Sport”. Annie went on to pay for her mom’s mortgage with her shooting skills, and made sure to support her family as much as she could.  Annie Oakley was arguably the first female superstar in a male dominated industry, and she will never be forgotten for her bravery, skill, and dedication to changing history. 

 

Marsha P Johnson (1945-1992):

Netflix Buys Documentary 'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson'

Marsha P Johnson (she/her),  was one of the most prominent figures in the gay rights movement in the 60’s and 70’s. She was an advocate for youth homelessness, those affected by HIV and AIDS, and the gay and transgender community. Assigned male at birth, Marsha grew up in an African American household in New Jersey with her 6 siblings. Her father worked in a GM assembly line, and her mother was a housekeeper. Marsha started showing interest in women’s clothing at the age of 5. When she would wear women’s clothes, she described that this reflected her sense of self, and made her feel the most authentic. She began to get bullied and harassed by other children including a violent encounter. Immediately after graduating highschool, Marsha moved to New York City with a bag of clothes and $15 in her pocket. Once she was living in NYC, Marsha lived authentically as a woman and adopted the name Marsha P Johnson. The P stood for “Pay It No Mind” which was her motto. Rights at this time for LGBTQ+ individuals were extremely minimal and limited and New York State was still in the midst of persecution of these individuals. Marsha went on to engage in the resistance at the Stonewall Inn on June 26, 1969. Police raided the bar and primarily arrested gay men. Marsha was considered on the front lines of this riot, and a pivotal woman in history who stood up for gay and trans individuals and demanded they be respected and given justice. She was an important member of the gay rights movement. The National Women’s History Museum describes “In 1970, Johnson and Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), “an organization dedicated to sheltering young transgender individuals who were shunned by their families.” The two also began STAR House, a place where transgender youth could stay and feel safe. STAR House was of personal importance to Johnson and Rivera as they had both spent much of their youth experiencing homelessness and destitution.” Marsha P Johnson fought for everyone to be seen as equals and not for their sexuality or gender. She taught people everywhere to stand up for justice, and to live as genuinely as possible. 

 

Kalpana Chawla (1962-2003)Dr Kalpana Chawla | KC Scholars

Kalpana Chawla (she/her), was an Indian born American NASA astronaut and aerospace engineer. She was the first Indian woman to fly to space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997, and was a robotic arm operator as well as a mission specialist. Kalpana earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India, and moved to the United States in 1982. Two years later, she graduated with a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and went on to earn a second Master’s and a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. She spent a total of 31 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space. While in space, she was documented saying inspiring things such as “You are just your intelligence.” Kalpana was known as a hard worker, and a woman who would fight to no end to see that she and her intellect were represented. Representing strong women in a “male dominated profession”, Kalpana continued working for NASA and defied the traditional stereotypes of a woman. She challenged those around her, and her explorative nature gave her a drive that would be written about in history books. 

February 22, 2024
Storytelling Workshop with Meghann Perry Group

Recently, we hosted a storytelling workshop at our home office in Lexington with the Meghann Perry Group. The focus of this workshop was to help our Peer Mentors develop their presentation skills surrounding subject matter that deals specifically with mental health and emotions. Over the course of the two-day training, we honed the craft of verbal storytelling with the help of skilled professional communicators and focused on productive group work and expressing positive feedback.

 

Self Love and How To Practice It

By Kylee Harris

What is self-love and how can we practice it? Getting caught up in day-to-day stress is normal. But how do we unwind after a long day and show ourselves love and support? You may not think practicing self-appreciation is important, but it is! Taking care of ourselves both physically and emotionally is actually the key to success and happiness in the real world. Self-love is showing yourself appreciation for both the small and big things. Practicing self-love means you are working to accept and respect yourself fully, cherishing your strengths and weaknesses, and promising to nurture your growth and well-being.

 For some, self-love can be learning to find comfort within themself. Whether it be societal, cultural, political, or internal, everyone battles factors that make self-love hard. Judgment from others is a particular fear for most people, which leads to self-doubt and insecurity. It’s easy to say “You shouldn’t care what they think” but everyone knows, that’s one of the hardest things to do. When you practice self-love and appreciation, you’re accepting all those judgments as opinions, and putting them to the side, because as long as you are authentically you, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. 

People practice using many methods. Self love looks different for everyone. As long as you’re practicing it in some way, you’re on your way to being more centered and in touch. For myself, what that looks like is repeating affirmations to myself everyday. “I am balanced, I am worthy, I love my body” are just a few I use daily to motivate myself to practice comfort in who I am. It’s important to practice in many different ways to find what works for you, and what doesn’t. Here are some ways you can practice self love at home. 

 

-Write a letter to yourself

What are the things you like about yourself? What do you think you need to work on? What would you tell your younger self?

 

-Build a self care routine

When you come home from work or school, light your favorite candle, turn on your favorite show, make your favorite meal, and RELAX! Long term self care routines look like making lists, meal prepping, scheduling appointments, and dedicating time to hygiene.

-Make a gratitude list

What are you most thankful for? Why? What emotions do these things bring to you?

 

-Practice Affirmations

“I am loved, I am worthy, I am kind, I am strong”

Affirmations can also look like: “I can make it through today” “If I need a break, I can take one”, “I will stand up for myself in tough situations”

 

-Do something that matters to you

Work, school, whatever you have going on can be busy. You might feel like you don’t have time for the things that you love to do, but taking that time is essential for your well being. Haven’t picked up the guitar in 3 weeks? JAM OUT! 

-Have a solo date night

Take yourself out! Who says you need to have someone join you for a nice meal out? Romanticize your life FOR YOU. 

 

-Dance and Movement

Even if you’re not a dancer, letting your body free move is freeing! Turn on some music and appreciate how your body moves and the rhythm in which it sways. No rhythm? Try some yoga poses combined with some deep breathing. What feels natural? What positions felt good?  Getting comfortable with your body is the first step to appreciation and positivity. 

 

Any of these activities can help you begin your self love journey. Whether you have 2 hours to practice, or 20 minutes, make sure you are doing something for yourself every single day. It is too often that we forget about ourselves and how important it is to take care of the body, mind, and soul.

February 9, 2024
School Counselor Appreciation

The first week of February is dedicated to School Counselors, so let’s show them some well deserved praise. We’d like to shout out some of the wonderful counselors we’ve worked with in fighting the mental health stigma! Thank you to all of our hard-working School Counselors! We appreciate all the wonderful work you do.

January 31, 2024
Attending the Annual Summit on the State of Education in Massachusetts
This week, the NAN Project team had the opportunity to attend the Annual Summit on the State of Education in Massachusetts held by the Rennie Center! We got to hear from education leaders, policymakers, and practitioners about rethinking our education system and how to amplify student mental health care. It was a great chance to hear some helpful insight into Massachusetts’ state goals for education changes.
Afterward, we got to spend time together as staff at Rainbows Pottery Studio and focus on team-building exercises!❤️
January 3, 2024
Peer Mentor Graduation at BAMSI

Hooray for another successful training at BAMSI with this wonderful crew. After four days of learning about suicide prevention and advocating for youth mental health, we have some new leaders! We can’t wait to see you all shine, whether you continue with us or become trailblazers within your own communities‍ Let’s hear it for the grads!

December 29, 2023
New Year’s Resolutions: Why It’s Okay To Have Them, and Break Them

New Year’s Resolutions: Why It’s Okay To Have Them, and Break Them

By: Kylee Harris 

 

Have you heard: “New year, new me!”? Or maybe something like “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to keep yourself accountable for changes you’d like to make to your life or to reach goals that you’ve always wanted to achieve. But what happens when you make a New Year’s resolution and break it? Do you feel guilty? Does setting a goal for yourself and not achieving it mean you failed? It can feel like that sometimes for sure! But, it’s not always a bad thing to break your resolution. I offer to you, here, a perspective from the other side on why it is OKAY to break your resolutions, and how you can grow from it.

 

Some of America’s most popular resolutions include….

“Eating Healthier”, “Losing Weight”, “Spending Less Money”, and “Give Up A Habit”. These are all great ideas, but let’s talk about goals vs resolutions. A resolution is defined as “a statement of what you want to CHANGE” while a goal is “a statement of what you want to ACHIEVE”. Setting realistic expectations can help make a resolution possible. There’s a lot of pressure as each new year arrives for people to declare what they want from themselves and even more pressure to uphold it. Creating small goals that lead to a resolution can be a great way to grow. For example, instead of “my New Year’s resolution is to lose weight” try “My New Year’s goal is to start eating one healthy meal a day” or “My New Year’s goal is to start cooking healthy meals”. With your goals structured as small achievements, it creates a more positive, encouraging outcome for yourself. 

 

If you did create a resolution, great! Some people want to hold themselves to that higher standard to purposefully pressure themselves into success and for some people it works. For others, that standard of promise is too high and can be anxiety inducing and encourage a depressive episode post “failed resolution” with a similar feeling to relapsing.  It can be hard to upkeep a promise you’ve made to yourself, and letting yourself down on that promise can be frustrating, but I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. The first step to change is to try. Trying different methods and finding out some of them don’t work is still progress! You are still moving in the right direction. The only way you will not be successful is if you don’t try at all. Sometimes it takes people researching and using trial and error to find out what path will lead them to success the healthiest way. It’s also okay to reevaluate and set a smaller goal for yourself such as instead of “my resolution is to spend less money”, try “my goal is to budget each week” or “my goal is to save $50 from every paycheck”. Seeing these smaller goals achieved help make your success attainable and keep you positive and encourage you to set more goals. 

 

Resolutions and goals have their individual standards reserved for the individual attempting to achieve them. The standard is what YOU set it as. You are in charge of your happiness and the ability to change your life for the better. Staying positive and communicating how you’re feeling is extremely important in the process of making any change. Talk to your friends, your family, and people with experience reaching individual goals and resolutions. Ask questions, and stay flexible. Remember that it’s okay to break down a resolution into smaller goals, and it’s okay through trial and error to find out what works for you. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means there’s another path to take. 

December 25, 2023
The NAN Project Holiday Party

Happy Holidays from The NAN Project team! This week we got to celebrate the work that we’ve accomplished so far this school year with a holiday party at King’s Bowling❤. We’d like to take some time this holiday season to reflect on our gratitude toward all of our sponsors and supporters. We couldn’t do our work without out you✨

December 19, 2023
Bilingual Peer Mentor Spotlight: Emily

 

This school year has seen our bilingual programming flourish at an unprecedented rate. Emily is one of the amazing Peer Mentors who has allowed our bilingual programming to excel this year. We sat down with Emily, our first Portuguese language bilingual Peer Mentor, to ask her a little bit about her work with the NAN Project.

  • What made you want to work with the NAN Project

“I wanted to work with the NAN Project because they were tabling at my school’s self-care fair. I went up to the table and heard about their mission and I thought it was really inspiring and I wanted to be a part of something like that”

  • Can you tell me about how your cultural background connects to your mental health?

“I feel like being able to have a community that I can connect with and that shares beliefs and similar experiences was extremely important. Having that connection and feeling like a part of something gave me a sense of belonging that soothed me.”

  • Do you notice that students connect more when you tell your story in Portuguese? 

“For sure. One time after presenting, this group of girls came up to me and said, ‘We were listening to the other stories and it’s nice to hear, but we couldn’t really relate to them. Then when you told your story, it’s something that we feel like we can relate to and it touched us.’ I feel like my Comeback Story is really a story of hope, so I feel they gained a sense of hope from hearing how I turned out. It’s nice to see people feeling represented.”

  • Have you received any student questions or comments that especially stuck out to you?

“One time there was a card that said someone had been going through a similar experience as me, with having a family member deported. They asked for advice on how to cope with that. That moment was really deep for me. It made me reflect and recall that experience and was something that remained in the back of my mind. When that came back up, I thought ‘Oh wow,’ Sometimes you forget you even lived through the things in your story. So, having the chance to remember how I overcame that time in my life was a special experience.”

  • Does it feel telling your story in English vs Portuguese?

“It definitely feels different. In Portuguese, it’s a unique way of expressing myself. Some things in English can feel more cold, whereas in Portuguese it can feel warmer and stronger”

  • How do you think hearing a bilingual NAN Project presentation would have affected you as a kid?

“It would have helped me because we always hear stories of perseverance and overcoming adversity, but when a story is directly related to

 your cultural experiences, it’s a whole different experience. The immigrant experience, and being an immigrant in America, is an entirely unique genre. There are so many different feelings and it’s a cultural experience with the different challenges we see across different stories. If I heard a story like that, I would feel a greater sense of hope to see that someone else has been through it and they’re still okay today.”

  • What advice would you give to yourself as a younger kid?

“I would tell myself that it gets better and that you’re not always gonna feel weird in your own skin and so insecure. I thought I was going to

 feel a sense of hopelessness, like things were always going to be that way. But, it does get better and you learn and grow and things truly get better.”

  • What are your plans for the future?

“My end goal is to be a psychologist so I’m always looking for opportunities, whether it’s job opportunities or volunteering or internships. Anything that can give me more experience working in the mental health field. I plan on doing medical interpreting and will finish my Portuguese interpretation training in January. My job as an interpreter is going to be in medical settings and I will be facilitating communication between medical providers and patients”

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