May is National Teen Self Esteem Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness on the importance of ensuring teens are self-aware and feel confident about themselves and their abilities. Mental wellbeing is of paramount importance during this crucial time in young peoples’ lives. Coumba Diallo, a student at MICDS, saw an opportunity to support the mental health of her peers and make a positive impact in her community to earn her Gold Award.
Diallo partnered with the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition to provide a creative outlet for teens in foster care to promote expression and mental health stability. Diallo began by collecting art supplies, writing art prompts on cards and assembling 150 art kits. She then invited teens who used the art kits to submit their artwork for a virtual exhibition that Diallo organized for the public. Finally, Diallo coordinated with a teaching artist and facilitated ten virtual painting workshops with children in St. Louis, Senegal. Diallo took photos and footage from the workshops and created a video to post on YouTube.
Through her project, Diallo reached more than 100 teens and provided them with tools for self-expression. To ensure her project will continue in the future, Diallo provided an instructional guidebook to the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition to continue assembling and handing out her art kits.
“The experience of completing my Gold Award has been irreplaceable to say the least,” Diallo said. “The amount of people that I have been able to reach with my project continues to astonish me. The Gold Award really encourages you to go out and foster relationships both in your community and beyond.”