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  • After Four Years and Seven Million Deaths, Society has Finally Started Valuing Mental Health: Let’s Keep the Conversation Going 

    By Aadit Garg Over four years and seven million deaths later, it seems that the world has finally begun to recover from COVID-19. Yet, deep down, people still feel the sting of the pandemic, especially in terms of mental health. The fear, isolation, financial instability and grief wrought by the pandemic have caused sharp surges in issues like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. For youth in particular, factors like online bullying, a need for peer validation, and structural barriers to mental care resources have made them especially vulnerable to mental health issues. Ironically, however, it took the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic for society to finally understand the importance of mental well-being. In a phenomenon the Cleveland Clinic has called the “Pandemic Effect,” people are finally discussing and seeking help for their mental health problems. In fact, one survey by the Cleveland Clinic shows a 14% increase in the number of people who believe mental and physical health are equally important. Furthermore, governments are finally devoting resources to address these problems, as shown by initiatives like 988, a federal suicide prevention helpline launched in 2022 to increase access to mental health care. While progress has been made, we must ensure that communities continue to recognize the significance of mental well-being and work to provide youth with greater access to mental health resources. To that end, what are some things we can do to take care of ourselves mentally? From finals to college admissions to climate change, there is no shortage of factors contributing to stress and worse among youth. The following are resources that can provide insight around and help to deal with mental health issues you or someone you know may be facing. 1.      Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is a reliable source for mental health information, offering specialized information for various populations (e.g. children, adolescents, adults, etc.) and covering a range of topics like stress management, treatment, etc. 2.      Medical News Today. Medical News Today offers a plethora of articles and news related to mental health. They cover many mental health conditions, provide treatment options (e.g. types of support, how to access them, digital apps etc.) specialized to different problems and people. 3.      Mental Health America (MHA). MHA is a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting mental health, preventing mental illnesses, and improving the overall well-being of individuals, offering information on various mental health conditions, self-help tools, and ways to find local mental health services. 4.      National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH is a federal agency that conducts research to further the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses, providing information about various topics like anxiety disorders, depression, etc. as well as treatment options/services like running 988. 5.      National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is a grassroots mental health organization aimed at building better lives for Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI includes more than 700 NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates who work in local communities to advance mental health support and awareness. It offers a HelpLine for assistance with mental health issues, online support groups for individuals affected by mental illness, and opportunities to be involved in their mission. 6.      Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). ADAA is a mental health organization focusing specifically on anxiety and depression. They provide information on in-person and virtual support groups nationwide for individuals struggling with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, etc. as well as peer-to-peer online support groups for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). 7.      Loved ones. Talking to people you love/trust about issues you are facing can be an effective method to work through difficulties, especially because these people know and care about you. If someone ever reaches out to you for help, make sure to listen to and understand their emotions and concerns and remind them that you are there to support them. Avoid comparison/judgement of their situation, ask what you can do to help, and keep your commitments. 8.      Therapy. Therapy can be a powerful resource for individuals seeking support and personal growth. It can offer emotional support, self-understanding, stress-management strategies, and problem-solving skills to help maintain one’s mental well-being, and there are many types to fit individuals’ varying needs. Choosing a therapist can involve a number of factors including qualifications/experience, area(s) of specialization, style of therapy and cost/insurance coverage. There are a variety of services that can help connect you with a therapist, including the “Find a Therapist” services of the ADAA, the American Psychiatric Association, GoodTherapy, the Black Mental Health Alliance, etc. 9.  Hotlines. Hotlines can connect you with counselors trained to provide immediate help for mental health emergencies. Hotlines can vary significantly from one to the next: they can be local, state-wide or national, have different timings, cover different types and extents of issues, serve different groups of people, etc. A few examples include 988, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Child Abuse Hotline, the Trans Lifeline, etc. A more comprehensive list can be found here. Remember, it is a sign of strength, not weakness to ask for help and prioritize your mental health.

  • Summer Safety Tips: Enjoying the sun, with no hospital runs

    By Caroline Percival For the vast majority of kids, the word “summer” is nearly equivalent to the word “freedom”. It is a season dreamt about by millions of children worldwide, all of them waiting for their time of liberation and release. During these months of sticky ice cream and refreshing swimming pools, there will be no homework, no quizzes, and no tests. It is universally known as a chance to explore, to try new things, and to be adventurous. However, there are some risks during summer that are incredibly important to take note of and pay attention to. First and foremost, sunscreen is required for every outdoor activity. Although this may sound like common knowledge, very few people incorporate this into their daily routine. According to the Archives of Dermatological Research, only 13.5% of adults wear sunscreen daily, an astonishingly low number considering that one in every five Americans is predicted to develop skin cancer before the age of 70. Forming the habit of using sunscreen is vital, especially from a young age. Not only does it reduce the risk of sunburns, but daily use will halve the chances of getting melanoma later in life. It is so easy to put on a coat of sunscreen every day, so I urge everyone, especially in a season with plenty of time outdoors, to take five minutes and save themselves plenty of pain and money down the road. Another potential danger is posed by a small insect that we often, metaphorically and literally, brush off. Although they are typically considered a pest or nuisance, mosquitoes can be deadly if carrying diseases. They can be found anywhere, especially in areas with standing water for them to breed in. While they cannot be completely deterred, there are actions that everyone can take to prevent being bitten, such as wearing bug spray and making sure there are no areas on their property that water can collect. Bug bites can become life-threatening very quickly, and care should be taken to prevent unnecessary illness. One of the biggest and commonly known hazards of summer is drowning. Featured in many books and movies, drowning is a mainstream problem that is still a major issue today. There are an estimated 320,000 deaths worldwide every year, with an average of 10 per day in the United States alone. It only takes 40 seconds for an adult to drown and 20 for a child, so it is extremely important to pay attention and be hypervigilant around water. Drowning is silent and can happen to anyone, no matter how strong a swimmer they may be. Never swim alone, and make sure to have someone skilled in first aid nearby. CPR goes a long way in reducing brain injury, so it would be ideal for everyone to learn first going into these long summer months. Summer is a fun-filled season with some distinct risks to be aware of. It is necessary to be careful and use discretion in difficult situations, relying on common sense above all else. Sunburns and bug bites are easily preventable, as well as more serious issues like drowning. It is important to have fun, but always remember, safety first!

  • Books for All: Lifting up lives through literature

    Books for All [B4A] provides literature access to those facing adversity, underprivileged neighborhoods, and to communities within Native American reservations. Founder Ellie Park on what inspired her to start B4A: Being a missionary for over 7 years, I have frequently met children and young adults that lack the access to the same resources as I do. I have met children from the Navajo, Hopi, and other Native American tribes that asked for the same books that collected dust in many on the shelves of my friends and family. That is when I began B4A. It was initially founded to deliver books to those without access in many Native American tribes but eventually branched to various foster organizations along with other nonprofits such as Homeward Bound and Swift. So far, B4A has accumulated over 3,000 books donated to Arizona Foster Alliance, Homeward Bound, St. Vincent de Paul, Mustang Library, Dilcon Restoration Church(Navajo), and many Hopi children. We gained statewide news attention through ABC15 and have supporters all throughout the country. We are still receiving many donations from book drives set up by over 6 Arizona High Schools including Chaparral, Boulder Creek, Notre Dame, and other organizations such as Mathnasium, local mosques and churches. In the future Ellie hopes that B4A is able to continue spreading the love for literature to not only underprivileged neighborhoods and Native American Reservations, but to communities all throughout the globe that may need their support. A note for B4A supporters from founder Ellie Park: I just want to include a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the cause so far. We truly could not have brought smiles upon the faces of many many children and even young adults without the help of our supporters. Another thank you to Youth Press for helping us spread awareness and contributing to an environment of difference made by the youth. If you would like to support B4A yourself, you can donate books or money through B4A's website Learn more about B4A through their Instagram @official.b4a

  • "Poetry is everything to me" : Selected Works by Arushi (aera) Rege

    Foreward by Sasha Anand | By Arushi (aera) Rege As we come into the month of May, most students face some familiar feeling. The sound of the trees, the incoming feeling of a summer yet again, and of course: finals week. This month at The Youth Press, we are all too well aware of the feelings that finals week brings, but for some besides a heightened sense of stress, maybe depressive thoughts, or something worse. This is one of the primary reasons our team has decided on the theme of "healthy habits" for this months theme. As students, we understand more than anyone what teenagers go through by the end of the school year and encourage every teen to take a moment for themselves, even if it seems impossible. Often that moment, for some, can mean the difference between life and death. Remember that the life is made up of more than one moment and that there is always someone who cares about you and believes in your future, even if you dont yourself. This month, we will hear from a student who worked through their own struggles, with a unique healthy habit: poetry. If you are facing suicidal thoughts, need someone to talk to, or are in distress call or text 988 On what inspires them to write: I mostly write in order to best work my way through my emotions. I started writing because I had a lot of emotions to work through, coming out of a bad period of mental health. In essence, I wrote because if I didn't, I would've died. I use poetry as a method of ensuring that I can discuss my emotions and harder aspects of my life, while also ensuring that I continue to do something I really love. Poetry is everything to me. It's a way of communicating with others, a method of expending my emotions in a healthy manner, and a way to continue to produce work with a lot of creativity. twin exit wounds & a love song the myth starts with a hello baby; the myth starts with my hand on yours & my lifeline placed on kissed-raw lips & whiskey-flavored mouths; the myth starts with prometheus & fire & a penchant to burn. you have a need to set things on fire & i’m the matchstick willing to be lit aflame; the myth starts with strobe lights & meteor showers we pretended were falling down to scorch; we deserve this, you know, the ring of fire we pretend we can’t feel under stars that scream for recognition; the myth starts like this, we pretend to dance underneath the candlelight. waltz. salsa. the details don’t matter; the myth starts like this, i think if i met the goddess of beauty, she’d take your face & your voice & your body & she’d be you; the myth starts with a halo of galaxies untold & a fire under our asses & my rage (love) sold out a concert hall & i screamed until my throat was raw & my fingers cut into the filets only a violinist could achieve. (the truth is my rage barely fills my body, an exit wound with no point of entry.); the myth starts with agni & a story about love & a cheesy line about the tunnel of love & how you’d never let me go if you had the option; each morning an elegy & each afternoon a funeral & each night a burning pyre (burning love burning body burning hearts); the myth goes like this – i tell you i remember what it feels like to be lit aflame, paper-mache skin & nyx’s red lipstick (shade copenhagen) & the raw red of my skin on yours – we pretend this is what nights upon nights look like (not a burning pyre. never the burning pyre; a nightmare long forgotten, a bullet hole with no casing). we pretend this means you never leave. we pretend this means i need you to stay (we pretend that i’m burning. this means i need you to stay. this means i pretend i’m not lying. this means the ring of fire has our name on it & the halo’s a scorching earth or a broken promise or a moth towards lightning or a self-portrait in only one color). the myth ends with a hello baby; the myth ends with the ending we deserve, an unfinished poem & a story that refuses to burn & a man that controls fate (leaving. staying. what does it matter anymore); the myth ends with this: i step on your toes when we dance the waltz (there’s something poetic about this, how the air burns with the desire of it all, how we’re locked together with a halo & a ring of fire); the myth ends like this: we just want to love, baby. we just want to be two exit wounds with no point of entry. we just want to take up space. we just want to burn. dust storm season when it says pull over it really means / don’t get caught in / endless sea of brown / emergency warning blares / you pull over / sit down / get comfortable / siren song won’t leave for an hour / our deserted city awaits / what i mean is its / one hundred and twelve degrees / and we’re doomed anyways / no point in getting out / what i mean is we can / sit here and chat / dust storm warning means / its arizona / so it's summer, so its dry pools and suburbia / cancel the touch tank, darling / the storm hasn’t rolled over yet / what i mean is my skin is the same color / as the storm / what i mean is i’m sitting / in your car / hoping for death to roll over / play dead itself / what i mean is its / dust storm season / so the cacti are withered / so its a dry heat / so the dust storm warning continues / pull over, darling / we can’t win if we’re all dead / the storm isn’t going anywhere / just recline the seats / we can stay here a while / so it’s summer, babe / so it’s suburbia / so it’s suicide / so it’s empty pools / cracked lips, bloody with disuse / sweat soaking my bra / the machinery has rusted! / rejoice again! / god’s still roaming this earth / what i mean is / maybe we aren’t doomed this time / maybe we haven’t lost against all odds / maybe the house doesn’t have to win again / what i mean is that / i need you to stop thinking i’m the storm / what i mean is / i promise i’m not / fundamentally unlovable / please, darling / you’re here with me, aren’t you? / what i mean is i need you / to pretend that we aren’t dying / or already dead / or something in between / what i mean is i need you / to look at me like you love me / what i mean is i need you / to pretend the skies aren’t red / to pretend this isn’t how the world ends / what i mean is / my skin is the same color / as the storm / so its dust storm season / so its suicide / so its suburbia / so i’m sorry / what i mean is / the radio static continues in the background / what i mean is my skin is the same color / as the storm / i need you / to stop thinking of me / as if i’m the storm / i need you to learn who i am / i need you to turn off the siren / i need you to say my name right lifecycle & love i know i promised you that i’d love you forever but baby i think i’m stuck on the notion of how i’m going to remember you longer than i’ve loved you. it goes like this, you call me again, on the phone & i promise that i haven’t been taking tylenol again. i’m thinking of kissing the boy on the phone i’m thinking about being a boy i’m thinking that maybe growth & change are just words that mean “i don’t have you anymore & i don’t think i’ll ever know how to live my life without you.” so maybe i’m the villain here, baby, i know what this looks like. under fluorescent streetlights & bright red skies, i know you’re staring at the girlboy i’m becoming & thinking about how i couldn’t grow (change) enough for this to be enough. i’m a broken record & you’re a broken heart about promises that i’m going to change & you’re going to be here forever. i know we’re desperately holding on, in as many languages as we can. sonya, tujhavara prem aahe maala. i know too many languages, baby, and i don’t know how to love you in enough of them. so just. entertain the idea that growth & change are lies we tell ourselves to become better people because i said i’d end my life cycle with you birth death birth death birth death (somewhere in between it’s about how i’d never leave you. somewhere in between it becomes romance) & tell me. am i going to be a chrysalis forever? am i going to be your pretty little butterfly? representative of all that you wanted but couldn’t have? are you going to keep me to be this little lifecycle replica of what love is (birth. death. repeat.) (verse. chorus. repeat.) i’m sorry baby, we know how the world works. we know how life works. we know what it means to change & i know i’d grow & change if it meant you’d stay & if it meant you’d be mine or baby. (birth. death. repeat.) ode to frank ocean’s cayendo aqui, acaso voy cayendo sing to me softly, my simple angel make me pretend the world’s not ending or dying or dead already because i can’t think with all this fuss i can’t be with all this noise aqui, acaso voy cayendo because at least as the world’s ending frank ocean is still singing and the world is ending and nothing is okay but at least frank ocean is still singing. turn the radio off, love, we don’t need to hear about the crisis, we already know what’s going on, we already know how the story ends because frank ocean is singing so it must be dead of night or four-fifteen in the afternoon or when i miss you terribly or when i’ve gone and broken my heart again because you don’t know how to love me in a way i understand but the world is ending and perhaps we can wait for a bit because frank ocean is singing aqui, acaso voy cayendo here, in this parking lot with the fluorescent orange streetlights that burn the image of you leaving because you always leave and i’ve never seen you stay, not for your mother on her deathbed and not for me when i need you and not for yourself when the world’s ending and aqui, acaso voy cayendo sing for me softly, my simple angel while you tell me your tales of woe because darling, the world is ending and you won’t stay but you won’t leave either so at least keep me company in the world’s final moments even though you’ve never wanted to be here. i kept you as the moon keeps the tides as the sun keeps the moon as we are just celestial bodies because the human race is just a bunch of tiny stars tiny atoms except atoms never touch so i’ve never held you, darling except fuck it, frank ocean is singing and the world is ending anyways so sing to me softly, my simple angel and tell me your tales of woe, porque aqui, acaso vamos cayendo Arushis Website

  • "am i too broken?" And other questions of this generation: a conversation with mental health advocate Aryana Altaha

    Seventeen year old Aryana Altaha is just like any other high schooler: she is an avid speech and debater, K drama fan and academic weapon. Unlike most teenagers, however, Aryana is mental health advocate and author with a combined following of more than 85K followers on TikTok and Instagram. We caught up with Aryana and asked her about her journey. Why did you start your social media account? I realized there was not much representation among youth about mental health on social media. This frustrated me because I struggled significantly with my mental health but it slowly improved. When was struggling however, I genuinely thought that it would not improve. I wish that I had that representation when I was struggling so that I knew that I was not hopeless. I decided to be that representation for others. What motivated you to write your book "am i too broken?" ? I used to write poetry as a way to release all my pent up emotions, it was a great coping mechanism for me. Ive always wanted to release a book, but I actually released it because society views vulnerability and speaking up about their own emotions as weak. Its not. Releasing this book meant I would be extremely vulnerable in front of thousands of people. I was terrified. But, I knew it was important to show people that vulnerability is not weak. You are not alone and it does get better. In the future Aryana hopes to be a motivational speaker, as well as starting a mental health business. Currently, Aryana has released her book "am i too broken?" which contains 145 poems aiming to de-stigmatize mental health as well as recently launching a mental health discord which aims to be a safe space for individuals to vent, as well as providing the public with various mental health resources. Purchase Aryanas book : Join her discord: Social Media: Follow Aryana on Instagram [@askaryana]: Follow Aryana on TikTok[@ask.aryana] : Follow Aryana on Youtube: Follow Aryanas Linkedin:

  • American Idol and AP tests: Lillian Hacketts rise to fame

    At just seventeen years old, Lillian Hackett is an emerging singer-songwriter from Lovettsville, VA. We interviewed her to learn more about her rise to fame on American Idol, her musical process and junior year. On her songwriting process: Sasha Anand: Okay, so you just released a song called Tennessee. I listened to it and it was really good! I'm not that big of a country music fan but even I liked it. I was just wondering for you, what did the process of writing and producing the song Tennessee look like? Lillian Hackett: So I wrote it, I want to say a couple years ago, and it's one of those songs that kind of took me a while to write. I came up with the first verse and the chorus really fast, but it always happens where I can't figure out the last verse, so I'm stuck on it for a few months, but after I finished that, I kind of just had that song in my back pocket for a while, and then I went on American Idol and that was my Audition song so I was thought I need to get this up on Spotify Apple music so if my audition is aired, you know people can go and look my name up on Spotify and hopefully it will get me more streams so that's kind of why I wanted to record it. I also just wanted to have some place where people could look at my music when they asked me to. But my buddy, he's in Low Water Bridge Band. He's a drummer. He's also a producer. So I went through him and it only took, I wanna say a day where we laid out all the tracks. And then, you know, he just mixed it and mastered it. But it was a really easy, quick process. S: That's super cool. Honestly, like I've always thought about like what producing music would look like, right? And it just, it seems so foreign, but the fact that you could have, you just do it like that is awesome. I could never do any of that recording stuff. L: There's so many, oh my gosh, it's so complicated. S: No, I bet. I guess, building off of that what does your overall songwriting process look like? Do you formulate an idea and then just go with the flow or do you have it all laid out? L: I kind of just come up with an idea. I come up with a lot of ideas every single day as I'm doing something, I'm like, oh, that would be a cool song. But when I finally come up with a good song idea that could produce a lot of ideas for the verses and the chorus, that's when I start, you know, I'm a really slow songwriter. It's really bad. It takes me like a month or two months. But most of my songs are just like about my personal experiences but they're also about you know other people's point of views and I draw a lot of inspiration from you know other people nature just things happening around me but there's no there's no real set process I kind of just write what I'm feeling. S: That's so it's like it's kind of like poetry. L: It is it really is like poetry. I love poetry. S: I don't know, I just find it so interesting, you know, like you have the courage to put your songs out there, right? And it's like, you do you ever get worried that you know, someone might not like it or stuff like that? L: It's definitely hard. Because when you write songs, it's so it like kind of tells who you are. And you know, there's always this people that are gonna judge that and it's hard because you are basically sharing who you are and those people are judging it. To be honest, I dont really care that much, hopefully someone likes it but there are there always is gonna be people that don't like it! S: Yeah at that point, it's just how do you move on right? L: Yeah exactly S: How long have you been singing how long have you been I guess doing music? L: I've been singing since I was born but yeah but I didn't pick up a guitar until I was 10. My dad has always played guitar growing up. So I was like, hey dad, can I borrow your guitar? Can you teach me a few chords? And then it just, you know, went from there. On American Idol and her takeaways: S: Now obviously the question of the hour! How has it been going from posting covers on Instagram to taking a stage at American Idol? L: Oh my gosh I signed up for American Idol on a whim not expecting anything out of it But it was just a crazy surreal experience that opened me up, to you know so much more and that stage on American Idol is probably the biggest thing I've been on and it's just crazy to think about. It's crazy to think that I was on American Idol one day and then I flew home and then I was in my pre-calc math class and that. S: That's crazy. I mean like, I just, I can't even imagine that like, just going like from something like that when you're on TV, you're going back to class. Was it hard dealing with that? Or did people not know until it came out? L: People, yeah, no one knew until it came out. I mean, people knew I auditioned, but no one knew I was in Hollywood, because I went in Hollywood back in December. And it was, it was definitely very hard to keep secret. And the first couple weeks that I came back from Hollywood, I was like, in this weird little bubble I was like oh it feels so weird coming back from American Idol and no one knows. S: Yeah, you can't tell anybody right? Yeah. I mean I bet, you know you see people on TV and then they're just like standing right in front of you. So like you said you signed up for American Idol on a whim right but have you always wanted to post music on Spotify where you always focus on just becoming a bigger artist? L: Yes I've always wanted to be an artist that was another reason why I wanted to put Tennessee up is because whenever people ask me like "where can I listen to your music?" I didn't really have a place and so I wanted you know just a place where people could look me up. But yeah that's all I've been doing. I'm not really like I'm not trying to you know, I don't know how to word this, but basically my mindset right now is just like play music, do as much as you can because you're having fun with it, but if it ever gets to you know a point where I'm not having fun I think that's like where I'm gonna call it quits but yeah all those covers and all those original songs that I've been posting on Instagram you know it's fun! S: I get it you do it because you have a passion and you have a talent. L: I mean, like, if I get bigger, you know, that'd be cool. But that's not really like, reason why I'm doing it. S: You said that, you know, your experience has been surreal, which is a great way to describe it. I mean, it's American Idol. But like, I was just wondering, do you have any, like key takeaways from the experience, anything that you would maybe change or some advice if someone were to do this themselves would you have any advice for them? L: My biggest takeaway is definitely all the people that I met. I met so many amazingly talented people. Some of them are still in it. They're like at the top 14. I'm like, let's go! But some advice, my advice for people is just to go into it. Just head first, do it. You never know what could happen. And just be yourself. I know that's so basic to say, but you really have to because if they're going to judge you, they're judging you. And you don't want to pretend to be somebody else because you want to make it because you're you. If that makes sense. L: That way, if you just go into it, who you are, like you're not going to have any regrets in the future. Like, oh, I should have done this. Which is like probably one of my biggest takeaways to like, I don't have any regrets coming out of it because I went into the mindset that I was just going to have fun with it and I wasn't going to take anything too seriously. On what inspires her and junior year: S: Who are some of your biggest inspirations and influences? Like, who really inspired you to get going with this process? L: I mean, locally, all my biggest inspirations come from, you know, all the musicians around Northern Virginia, Winchester area. It's a really big, cool music community. They've been so supportive since I was young with my music and letting me open up for them and letting me play during their set breaks when I was younger. So they've just shown me what a positive music community looks like. But, and my dad, my dad is a big inspiration for me too. But on a larger scale, I have to say, you know, songwriters like Bob Dylan, and I love the music of Sierra Farrell and Gillian Welch, but I find a lot of musical inspiration everywhere. S: Yeah, I mean, yeah, there are a lot of, there are a lot of musicians in your area. I live in Arizona, there's like nothing going on here, I swear. But you know, different places, different vibes. Do you have any more plans on releasing any more music on streaming platforms anytime soon? Anything you're working on? L: I don't have any set plans yet, but I'm working on a few other originals. I'm hoping to get a cover of Blood Moon on Spotify because I know people have been wanting it. I've just been really busy recently, but I'm gonna get it up there one of these days. S: It's been a year! L: Oh my gosh. I know. S: So you are a junior in high school then? L: Yeah. S: Same. How's that been going for you? L: Oh my gosh, it's been really, really, really busy.I still keep it up with the grades, but it's about to be AP season. S: Wait, what APs are you taking? L: AP Lang, but that's the only AP. I'm mainly in DE classes. S: Yeah, I was just about to say, you're taking AP Chem or AP Bio? If so, good luck! But yeah, it's nice to know you still have the junior year problems. You know what I'm saying? L: Nobody likes junior year. Especially with all this music stuff going on every single weekend, I'm just playing out gigs. And it's hard to be like on the grind with the homework when I'm playing gigs, but somehow I make it happen. Somehow I'm keeping up. One more quarter, let's go! S: I know, right? Fourth quarter is crazy. But you ever feel like going into senior year, are you excited for what's to come or are you like ugh school? L: I have a lot of really cool festivals in September but that's also you know like when I'm supposed to be applying for college so it's gonna be really busy that first half of senior year but I feel like it's okay. S: At least you're having fun you know that's all that matters at the end of the day. Final thoughts and advice: S: What is your favorite thing about music? What inspires you to keep doing it? L: My favorite thing about music... I've grown up around music since I was little, like going to concerts and festivals, barn dances on our road. We have a barn dance probably like a few miles on the road. And it's just, it's such a lively music scene and all the musicians know each other. And it's so positive. I feel like sometimes when people think of the music other. And it's so positive. I feel like sometimes when people think of the music industry it kind of has a negative connotation to it. But I've just grown up in such a positive environment and that's probably one of my favorite things. The people of music are definitely the favorite part for me S: Do you plan on pursuing music in college? L: I feel like if I go to college the music is definitely going to slow down. I definitely want to stay involved with the music interview whether that be performing, singing, or being in the business side of things. I still haven't figured it out, but I'm working on it. S: Do you have any advice for juniors? L: Stay on top of things, and don't procrastinate. Balance your social life and school and try to have fun! S: Finally, any advice for young musicians? L: Just keep posting those covers, and keep playing music. Every time you do something a new door opens, and you know if that's something you like to do keep doing it. If someone says it's cringy just keep posting those covers! LINKS: If you are interested in learning more about Lillian and listening to her music: Listen to Tenessee: Watch Lillians American Idol Audition: Lillians Instagram: @lillianhackettmusic

  • Indigenous Farming Wisdom: The Art of Intercropping

    By Divya Beeram This Earth Day, we reflect on a key aspect of our lives that can either save or harm our planet: Agriculture. Agriculture is not only how our world stays alive, but how the world expresses its culture in one of the most vital ways. The indigenous peoples of the United States possess an intricate and expansive knowledge of methods to both leverage and preserve land. Among all indigenous farming techniques, one stands out as a feasible method of reforming corporate farming: intercropping, a time-honored practice that has provided communities with food for centuries. Intercropping, also known as mixed cropping or polyculture, involves cultivating two or more crops simultaneously in the same field. Unlike monoculture, where a single crop dominates vast expanses of land, intercropping mimics the biodiversity found in natural ecosystems. Indigenous communities across the globe have embraced intercropping as a way to enhance soil fertility, control pests and diseases, and maximize yields without depleting natural resources. The Iroquois and Cherokee tribes in particular use the intercropping method for the “three sisters” crops. Corn, beans, and squash thrive when planted together, preserving water and space. The ecosystem thrives when given a chance to intermingle. In a more modern lens, this may mean the preservation of land, use of fewer pesticides, and a larger food surplus. In fact, communities outside of the United States in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Georgia have continued to use this practice successfully in times of water and food scarcity. Intercropping embodies the holistic worldview of indigenous farming, where crops are viewed not as isolated entities but as interconnected components of a larger scale ecosystem. By cultivating a diverse range of crops, indigenous farmers mitigate the risks associated with crop failure, ensuring food security in unpredictable climates. Moreover, intercropping encourages resilience in the face of environmental challenges, as the interaction between different species buffers against pest outbreaks and chemical deficiencies in soil. The resurgence of interest in indigenous farming techniques, including intercropping, comes at a critical juncture in the face of climate change and ecological degradation. The Colorado River water crisis specifically has come to the forefront of the media recently. As the agriculture industry grapples with the challenges of dwindling resources and environmental degradation, indigenous wisdom offers a beacon of hope and resilience. By embracing the principles of intercropping, a more sustainable food system can be cultivated that honors both the land and its stewards. Generally speaking, intercropping bears a higher yield when pairing the right crops together, and it preserves the land that indigenous folks have valiantly fought to protect. In a world where land and resources are running out, a return to our roots might be just what we need. Oftentimes as Americans, we forget the traditions of those who originally lived on this land. It is our responsibility to reevaluate our approaches and recognize the travesty of indigenous erasure. It is not only intercropping, but thousands of methods developed over years of trial and failure. It is the stories of those who came before us. We have the capacity to make this transition, but it starts with grassroots change (figuratively and literally). Through the knowledge of indigenous peoples, we can plant the way into the future.

  • Breaking the ice: A deeper look into how the media misrepresents women

    By Maya Ravishankar The media is a lot of things to a lot of people. A source of daily news, new opinion pieces that change our worldview, and explanations of that weird tik-tok that we don't quite seem to get. But to many, the media has posed as both a means to amplify their voice, and the very platform that forced them to use that voice to defend themselves. This women’s history month, we want to talk about how the media has portrayed women throughout history, why it did so, before we can talk about where we are and where we’re going. Without a doubt, media’s ability to change our own perspectives is incredibly effective. Unfortunately, many people have used the media to perpetuate stereotypes against women for generations. According to the UN Women Organization, “The media can play a significant role in either perpetuating or challenging social norms and behaviors that condone violence against women. New media can be a platform for the objectification of women and girls, from everyday hyper-sexualised, one-dimensional images of women and girls to overt violence”. The media has the ability to effectively shift blame onto women using stereotypes, successfully making others condone the violence or misrepresentation of women across the globe. We can see many examples of these especially through the 80’s and 90’s. Tonya Harding is one such example. Tonya was a figure skater in the 90’s, known for her strong athleticism and unique skill. The media during this time was quick to compare her to Nancy Kerrigan, a fellow figure skater. So when Tonya Harding’s husband hired a man who attempted to assault Nancy on January 6, 1994 in an attempt to stop her from competing in the upcoming olympics, the media was quick to pick sides. Tonya Harding, the girl from “the wrong side of the tracks” was quickly portrayed as vindictive; in comparison, Nancy Kerrigan was portrayed as a “princess”. This story, however popular, was not true. Nancy also comes from modest means, but rather than reveal that information, the media opted for publishing this story, one that NPR describes as “Tonya [being] The People's Skater; Nancy [being] The Establishment”. Pitting these two women against one another on the basis of their background made for a story that would sell; people could take sides, thus buying more newspapers. Both women still face scrutiny to this day. The media that sold lies about them does not face nearly as much. But Tonya and Nancy are not singular examples. Pamela Anderson, Britney Spears, and so many others had stereotypes used against them to sell stories. But the question is: Why so many women specifically? And why then? According to an article in the New York Times, “Carolyn Chernoff, a sociologist who researches women and popular culture, said this media scrutiny seemed to worsen in the 1980s, perhaps as a reaction to feminist gains. “More and more women are in the workplace, are getting more power, are working visibly in powerful jobs,” she said. This led to what she called a “correction,” with the media coming after any woman perceived as too famous, too powerful, too exposed.”. Thus, Media was used against women as a way to curb social progress. But this phenomenon did not just stay in the 90s. Popular figures of the day, such as Taylor Swift and Rachel Zegler, face a similar issue. Their words and actions are used against them to create particular images that people can buy into. Rachel Zegler’s explanation of the changes to Disney's new Snow white movie led to extreme backlash, one that follows her to this day. The media infamously turned against Anne Hathaway after she won her oscar. We may think that we have simply progressed enough to where media bias against women is not as prevalent, but upon a closer viewing, we can see that it is just as relevant as it was 30 years ago. Today, women such as Pamela Anderson and Tonya Harding are trying to reclaim their identity through the media. The movie I, Tonya explores her life as an individual, not in comparison to anyone else. Similarly, many other women are using the media as a means of reclaiming their identity, showing the ruth behind manufactured stories and cruel titles. But as we move forward, we have to keep looking at the way we choose to speak about the women around us. If stories can be created out of falsehoods then, they can also be created now. But as more and more women become involved in the media, the narrative is more likely to change, evolve, and welcome the individuality of women everywhere.

  • Voting for Dummies: A quick guide for first time voters

    By Sasha Anand In a world where it seems like TikTok is the most current area to discuss an election, it can be hard for new voters, and even seasoned ones, to keep up with what is happening, aside from all the candidate impressions and memes. Here is a quick guide where you can see the state of the general election so far and learn some new terms, all readable in 2 minutes, or the equivalent of 4 Vivek Ramaswamy impression videos! Below is a simple timeline of the key events this election cycle. A prepared, educated voter will do their own research as well, hence the links and terms later in this article, but if you want to see some quick events this is the timeline for you! *January 2024-November 2024 Now that you know more about the main events this election season, and some important vocabulary you will need to know, you are almost ready to vote. All you need to do now is to figure out what issues matter to you! Then you will be able to make an informed, sound decision rather than basing your decision on 3 clips on the internet. Since you've made it this far, click the link and register to vote, then you can go back to scrolling on TikTok. REGISTER TO VOTE: VOTE.GOV

  • Beyond the Waters: how one family trip inspired one teen to make waves around the world

    Beyond the Waters [BTW] is a youth-led group based in New York which seeks to extend aid and solidarity to individuals facing adversity in South/Southeast Asian communities. In the summer of 2023, Founder Hailey Nguyen and her family traveled to Vietnam. It was a highly anticipated trip, marking her parents’ first time home in over 20 years, which also happened to be her and her brothers first visit. Hailey Nguyen on what inspired her to found beyond the waters: Upon traveling and sightseeing, I couldn’t help but notice the poor quality of life and relics of poverty that lingered throughout every street. I found out that one of my distant relatives was homeless and watched as kids as young as four years old hustled in the streets searching for scraps to find adequate food or change to bring home. Although Vietnam itself was a beautiful country, the trip also brought to light the persistent issues that remain and left countless individuals helpless. It’s places like these that the rest of the world doesn’t care enough to talk about or even are aware of. I visited an orphanage (Chùa Kỳ Quang) I saw abandoned kids with disabilities because medical bills were too high for their impoverished parents, babies, and kids just trying to be kids. I watched as they played together, got schooling, and ate meals (+ washed their own dishes) like one big family but I felt it wasn’t enough to just say I felt bad and then return to a life that they’d only dream of having. That’s why I started BeyondtheWaters. To bring to light the indecencies of humanity that are not nearly emphasized enough or even made aware and to combat them. What society cares about is dictated by the news and social platforms like Instagram: but what happens when we actually do the research ourselves and find that these same crises are happening in hundreds of other places affecting other populations, communities, and innocent families? It’s not fair to the other countries who have been through trauma to be left unacknowledged. Even though Vietnam is where the BTW journey began, I teamed up with a group of people who shared these issues from all over South/Southeast Asia. The solution lies within unity and there’s no way the world will improve without taking steps towards doing so. On their mission: Upon creating our vision for what we wanted our nonprofit to stand for, we quickly found it to be rooted in universal morality. As avid individuals with a passion for vocalizing change and daughters/sons who were brought up in suffering motherlands, we found that the solution lies within compassion, solidarity, and proactive engagement. These efforts are guided not only by a sense of empathy but also by our shared affinity for forging meaningful impacts. We are youth-led and want to encourage initiatives within our communities on a level larger than life. Focused on standing with innocent victims during ongoing crises, we spotlight a chosen country each month. Through awareness promotion and fundraising (with community events that bring people together), we provide immediate relief efforts, securing basic resources like water and clothes for those affected. Beyond monetary support, we keep an informative blog with accessible information covering current events, which dive into under-discussed crises and lesser-known vulnerable populations. Our articles aim to foster empathy and global awareness, emphasizing the significance of a vocal platform. Through consistent updates and fundraisers, our goal is to provoke initiative, shed light on issues, and foster responsibility to help those who are unable to help themselves. BTW was founded in February of 2024 and is already building bridges [and wells!] So far, they have advocated for Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), most specifically the Rohingya population. Marginalized groups within Myanmar have been faced with persecution, human rights violations, as well as sexual assault, and more. The Rohingya continue to be denied their rights to political office, voting, and childbirth and are forced to undergo manual labor and relocation. If they refuse or show any form of retaliation, they are raped, tortured, and in some cases, killed. They recently interviewed a local resident in Myanmar who speaks of her gruesome experience. Her constant fear really hit home. She described her situation as a “living hell”. Covering these silenced issues drives us forward. BTW has aided Myanmar refugees in 26 camps in Coxs Bazar providing over $1k for essential needs such as food, water, and hygienic products as well as building schools and learning centers for children to continue their studies through the evils of the military junta. Currently partnering with the Paani Project, BTW is currently in the process of raising money to build water wells for access to clean water in impoverished Pakistan communities which will serve hundreds of individuals and their families. They have held numerous community bake sales and fundraisers and have held in-person discussions with BRAC leaders [the largest responder to the Rohingya Crisis] in our school to talk about these issues. BTW has gained volunteers from across the country who join the mission and has fostered meaningful connections with people who sympathize with the cause. In the future, BTW plans to bring light to more overlooked issues in their targeted region and continue to help out vulnerable communities in need. After the construction of wells in Pakistan is complete, they will be spotlighting Hailey's mother country, Vietnam. Hailey and her team will be raising funds for the same orphanage she visited during her time in Vietnam to acknowledge the orphans she got to meet. Learn more about Beyond the Waters or get involved at Stay updated on their mission via Instagram:@beyondthewaters

  • Saving you from the IRS: Taxes broken down

    By Samantha Quinones It’s Tax Day and everyone’s freaking out. Ok, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but taxes can be scary, especially if you’ve never filed them before. So, if you’re a teen or young adult making over $13,850 a year, we got you covered. What exactly are taxes? Taxes are mandatory payments that your government collects and uses to cover government services, activities, and goods. They use this money to fund lots of things for the country, such as infrastructure. How do you file your taxes? There are lots of forms you can file your taxes in, and many different ways to do it. We’ll break down a few: If you E-file, you can receive your tax refund faster. There are multiple ways to do this, but the easiest is to use IRS fillable forms, which are online tax forms that you fill out like you would fill out a physical form. You can receive help from a tax professional. This one is a little harder and time-consuming, considering you have to find someone affordable but good. Having someone who files your taxes for you is quite helpful once you’ve found the right person. W-2s. W-2s are the IRS’s way of finding out how much money you make and the taxes held within that income. While they seem to be straightforward, they can be a little confusing, so having a parent or guardian on hand can be helpful. W-2s are meant to help employees when filing their tax returns, so this is exactly what you will use yours for. Seeing as this is a quick-read article, providing every piece of information on something like taxes can be quite difficult, so we have lots of recommended readings to help you along: Investopedia is a personal favorite. They break down everything in simple terms and provide lots of helpful information. The IRS also provides helpful information, although it might be more difficult to understand. For Dummies has simplified but small breakdowns on tax cheat codes (and no we do not mean ways to commit tax evasion). The article we recommend you read from them is this: If you’re making less than $13,850 as a teen, there will still be money taken out. Here's a quick explanation:,income%20hits%20a%20certain%20threshol You’ve successfully learned how to pay your taxes. Now you can breathe without worrying about the IRS banging down your door!

  • The African American Community and Mistrust Within Healthcare

    By Iza Piatkowski As Black History Month comes to a close, The Youth Press wants to highlight an important issue that continues to impact the community today: the mistrust towards the medical system held by many African Americans. Dr. Laura Bogart, a behavioral scientist and social psychologist at the RAND Corporation, defines medical mistrust as “an absence of trust that health care providers and organizations genuinely care for patients’ interests, are honest, practice confidentiality, and have the competence to produce the best possible results.” This mistrust is justified, as the healthcare system has failed African Americans completely throughout history. Myths about physical racial differences, torturous medical experiments, and unfair medical treatment have all contributed to this failure. Myths about physical racial differences, once used to justify slavery, are still viewed as true by many doctors today. Historically, one of the most widely believed myths is that Black people have a significantly higher pain tolerance than white people. As a result, physicians often used slaves in painful medical experiments. Dr. J. Marion Sims, regarded as the father of modern gynecology, used Black women to practice painful gynecological operations without anesthesia between 1845 and 1849. Dr. Thomas Hamilton, who believed black skin was thicker than white skin, experimented on his slave John Brown for nine months to prove his theory. Today, as published in a 2013 review in The American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, Black people continue to receive inadequate pain management. A survey of medical students and residents from The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that when given examples of Black people in hypothetical medical scenarios, the students and residents believed the black patients felt less pain and were therefore less likely to recommend appropriate treatment. A third of them also believed Dr. Hamilton’s disproven theory that black skin was thicker than white skin. Even in the twentieth century, the federal government was conducting experiments on black people. In 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service began a study on the natural history of syphilis called the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. It initially involved 600 black men, 399 with syphilis and 201 without. Subjects did not give informed consent for this study, simply being told they were being treated for “bad blood.” Although penicillin, the treatment for syphilis, was widely available, participants in the study were not treated. According to the World Health Organization, untreated syphilis can “affect multiple organs and systems, including brain, nerves, eyes, liver, heart, blood vessels, bones and joints” and can even “cause death.” Syphilis, an easily transmissible STD, can also be congenital. 67% of women with syphilis “will have an adverse outcome of pregnancy,” with 26% experiencing “fetal loss or a stillbirth.” Despite these risks, the study went on for another 40 years until a 1972 Associated Press article revealed the study to the public. Given these facts, it should not be surprising that a Pew Research study revealed only 42% of black Americans said they would be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite the structural inequality black Americans face, the healthcare system has not been forgiving. According to a KFF study, Black people continue to face barriers to healthcare and are more likely to report unfair treatment while seeking medical care. There is work that can and should be done to reduce the health disparities the African American community faces. An article from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy presents the following solutions: raising awareness among health care providers, increasing health literacy in affected communities, advancing health equity, providing more resources, and tracking results. The United States healthcare system needs to work to improve all of these things, or Black Americans will continue to rightfully mistrust the system that is supposed to help them stay alive. If you would like to learn more about the health inequalities African Americans face, we encourage you to read the following sources used to help write this article: USC solutions: Tuskegee Syphilis Study:,Syphilis%20Study%20at%20Tuskegee%E2%80%9D Barriers African Americans continue to face: History/impact of racial difference myths: Issue of mistrust:,the%20course%20of%20the%20disease

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