Lady Gaga stepped in this week to provide an enormous mental health boost to Chicago's students. And this isn't the first time she's used her platform to help to help struggling kids. In fact, the mission of "Born This Way Foundation," co-founded and led by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, "supports the mental health of young people and works with them to build a kinder and braver world. Through high-impact programming, youth-led conversations, and strategic, cross-sectoral partnerships, the Foundation aims to make kindness cool, validate the emotions of young people, and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health."
So, let's take a moment to recognize her commitment to helping kids this Mental Health Awareness Month.
Tuesday, Chicago Public Schools announced a partnership with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to create a new program called "Please Stay," which Chalkbeat Chicago reports “is focused on promoting dialogue around mental health support for seventh to 12th grade students.”
Chalkbeat Chicago has more on why this is so necessary for kids—kids in my neighborhood—as they fight to learn during the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:
[Northside College Prep senior Anmol Singh] remembers his family life being disrupted, financial hardships, and being disconnected from extended family. His mother had to take a leave of absence to care for his 3-year-old brother, while his older brother missed out on cornerstone moments of his senior year.
“We were just really devastated by the fact that we had to completely uproot everything that we knew,” Singh recalls.
Please Stay released a promotional video with Chicago kids describing their collective mental health struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic, now in its third year.
“You’re sad, I’m sad too. We’re all sad. It’s kind of becoming normal now,” is how one student opens the video. When you watch it, pause there like I did and take that statement in. It’s supposed to hurt. We’re supposed to look out for the kids in our towns, but oftentimes our leaders let them down.
Until a mega-celebrity got involved, these kids were struggling with chaos, illness, death, and lack of support from our city’s leaders. It’s been so bad that my alderwoman, the 33rd Ward’s Rossana Rodriguez, called for a federal investigation into the city’s potential misuse of American Rescue Plan funds that were designated to be spent on children.
Things are not supposed to be this way.
We all must be more proactive to help kids with their mental health, among so many more things.
So here are some concrete steps you can take today to make a difference in your hometown.
Take Action For Kids’ Mental Health
Take a look at Lady Gaga’s "Born This Way Foundation." Learn how the Foundation encourages people to practice kindness toward themselves and their communities through its websiteand its storytelling platform Channel Kindness.
If you’re in school or district leadership, get in touch with "Born This Way Foundation" about similar mental health supports for your own students.
If you’re a parent or otherwise-concerned citizen, share the "Please Stay" launch video with your district and city leaders. Advocate for a similar program for your kids.
If you’re a student, get in touch!. We’re here to listen and share your story with the people who are supposed to make the changes you need and want in your life.
Rob Samuelson is a Staff Writer at Education Post and Digital Media Manager for the brightbeam network.