IMPACT 0520: CARING FOR MENTAL HEALTH OF YOUTH IN EDUCATION
Youth Action Challenge (YAC) is a platform for youth to provide solutions that tackle the issues we are concerned about. Since October 2021, over 80 teams and more than 310 youths have undertaken the YAC Season 3 journey.
Huang Huanyan, 22, is the founder of Deko and a current third year student in Yale-NUS College, majoring in Life Science while minoring in Arts and Humanities. She is also a Student Associate in Dining Experience Team (DXT) at Yale-NUS, and a Student Associate at the Student Affairs Office, part of the Wellness Committee due to her background in resilience studies.
Her many interests and ideas, along with a life defined by the strong desire to help as many people as possible, led her to constantly seek the most effective ways of supporting others. This led her to propose and lead multiple initiatives under both positions, along with co-developing wellness and leadership curricula in both Yale-NUS College and Raffles Institution.
Today she shares more about the project!
What was your role within your YAC project?
I am the co-founder and artistic director of Deko, ideating and planning the curriculum with my partner while driving artistic direction. With five to six years of professional illustration experience under my belt and having explored multiple mediums of art creation throughout my life, I am also the main illustrator and editor for all works produced by Deko.
What motivated you to join YAC?
My passion for extending the impact of everything I am working on has been my main guiding pillar throughout my life. After meeting my co-founder and discovering the impact our combined strengths could bring, we realised YAC was the final piece of the puzzle needed for us to access resources and networks. Through YAC, we were finally able to scale our project and achieve both our aims of maximising impact.
Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?
Although our team had some experience in designing fun and creative educational content (specifically in the topic of public health and biology), YAC was the first time we focused on mental health. All three of us in Deko had been involved in projects and/or learnt about developmental and clinical psychology, but were experienced in rather different areas.
This contributed to an interesting synergistic effect when we worked together on the curriculum design. What was most interesting was thinking up activity ideas that were the most fun and unique while fulfilling learning objectives — I was so impressed by everyone’s creativity!
What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?
Personally, the greatest challenge was engaging paying partners for our curriculum and ensuring that the artworks were created efficiently while retaining high quality. It was difficult identifying the sweet spot where educators would be most willing to pay for our curriculum, although we were able to arrive at that conclusion after consulting with schools and after conversing with those in the industry.
Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?
Our project has three main aims: (1) maximising engagement in classrooms and in learning; (2) educating youth about topics related to mental wellbeing and in the process, developing resilience, and (3) empowering youth to continue the conversation about mental wellness beyond the classrooms.
We achieve a positive impact by ensuring that youth are more aware of their own mental wellness through reflecting upon their individual experiences. Furthermore, we facilitate critical thinking and creative problem solving by encouraging and guiding youth to explore solutions most suitable for them.
Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?
YAC provided an amazing opportunity for us to learn from other perspectives, both directly through feedback we had received, and through listening to other projects. It was also a fantastic opportunity to hear from all the mentors, which allowed us to refine our ideas further.