Scholar Spotlight – Jade

“Support from the JC Runyon Foundation will help me #LiveMyNextChapter from high school into college and ultimately into a career.”

Anxiety had been Jade’s shadow much of her childhood. Her family tried to connect her to supports for her mental health during her early childhood, but by the end of middle school and during the transition into high school, that anxiety had twisted into something ugly and unrecognizable leading to 3 inpatient hospitalizations. This began her two year journey into recovery. Part of her treatment was a collaborative team consisting of her parents, a central counselor, psychiatrist, various health care providers, education team members, government agencies, community resources and even relevant businesses. This was the true “It takes a village to raise a child” approach to care and it worked for Jade.

Learning to help herself was the most important step before Jade could advocate for others. She reframed her thoughts, past and present. She built tolerance for uncomfortable feelings, learned to give herself a break when needed and found personal coping skills such as participation in the arts. She improved her physical health alongside her mental health, eventually losing over ninety pounds, each one a physical measure of her progress. With this new self-knowledge, her anxieties lessened. Her attention was not focused on other’s perceptions of her, but on herself. She learned that her sensitivity, which once caused her great pain, would now be her biggest asset. Empathy was now a tool she could share with others. It wasn’t that she didn’t still need to manage her anxiety, but her hard-earned knowledge of self got her to the place where she had the emotional resources to help other youth.  

The resilience and self-awareness that I developed in the past has allowed me to tolerate the rigors of advocating for others as a council member for my high school’s Queer-Straight Alliance and for YouthMOVE Ohio. YouthMOVE has provided amazing opportunities for me to add my perspective into decision making within the various systems that serve youth. I plan to continue my work with YouthMOVE, and I am excited about what other service opportunities college will bring.”

When she came back to school after a nearly two-year absence, in order to meet graduation requirements, she had to accept a different path than she had always envisioned for herself. However, those experiences taught Jade about herself, others, and the systems that serve people. Realizing that her experience and the knowledge gained from it was of value, she became an advocate at the state level by joining the YouthMOVE Ohio council. 

Jade testified in front of an Ohio Senate Finance Subcommittee regarding support of increased funding for mental health. The following week she submitted written testimony to the full Senate Finance Committee. This left a powerful impression on the senators as she advocated based on her own experience. It was later announced in July 2019 that an unprecedented amount of funding was allocated within the state budget for preventative programs and mental health services.

As Jade becomes more involved with social justice issues, she wants to understand how to be a better advocate. Her main goal is to create a life where she can support herself while working toward change that will help others. She is excited to be attending Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College where she will pursue a major in sociology with a focus on political science and cultural anthropology as well.

The JC Runyon Foundation is thrilled to be a small part of this amazing young lady’s journey. Jade has already begun to make her impact on society by co-presenting at The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Systems of Care: It’s about the People Who Care Summit. She was also a youth speaker at the 14th Annual Resiliency Ring Event at the State Capitol Building in Columbus, OH. And to top it all off, she testified in front of the Ohio Senate Finance Committee in support of increased funding for mental health. She has done more in her life before college than many of us will do in a life time!

Jade is the epitome of #LivingTheNextChapter and we can’t wait to see the impact she has moving forward.

Are you ready to #LiveYourNextChapter like Jade? Now accepting applications for 2020-21! Click Here

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Scholar Spotlight – Maya

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