An international mental health program helps students at a DC 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 people’s struggle, forgiveness, and self-esteem, finding their own silver lining in the process.
“My silver plan was hope and I would never give up, because during the pandemic I thought I had given up, but I did everything during the program,” said Kyriah Carmicheal, a ninth-grade student at the Richard Wright Public Charter School in southwest DC
Kyriah struggled with her mental health during the pandemic, but through the program, which also connects her school’s students with her classmates in Ghana and Brazil, she has found hope.
“If you have a problem, you may not want to talk about it, you may just want to feel that you can relate to someone else,” said Brittany Dimyan, the show’s creator.
Listen to other teenagers around the world talking about the same problems I had with opening my eyes to Kyriah.
“At first I was very shy, but then I decided to open up once I heard other people’s stories,” she said.
Dimyan hopes the students leave the workshop enabling each other. He plans to take the workshop to more schools in the area and around the world.
“That’s about helping each other find that silver lining, without feeling like you’re alone,” he said.
Kyriah left the workshop feeling more empowered than before she attended.
“It really helped me with my social anxiety and depression, so I think I’ll be more social next year,” Kyriah said.
The program has been critical to the mental health of students, according to Helen Compton-Harris, the school’s director of collaboration and outreach development.
“They need to be inspired, to believe that things will get better,” Compton-Harris said. “We’ll get over it and come out stronger than before.”