Teen mental health is a very important topic to me.

As someone who has struggled, bringing light to the importance of advocacy for teens is something I believe is necessary. I have always been someone who has believed in the power of doing good. Raising awareness for something that is so important to me seemed the most reasonable thing to do. I heard about Erika’s Lighthouse from a family friend, and I decided to do a bit of research for myself. I truly believe that the mission statement is what solidified my decision to raise money for Erika’s Lighthouse.

At the start of 2021, I started an Etsy earring shop, @earringbycee, in hopes to make a little bit of money and having something to do in my free time while at home. It is going well thus far, and I have learned some important lessons about what running a small brand is like.  One of the owners of 2 Sisters reached out to me. She offered me the opportunity for a pop-up-shop so I could display my products in person. I was excited about this, but I felt I could do more.

I spent some time thinking – Is there more I could be doing? What else is there? After some time I realized that in these trying times, more people need to be doing good. I knew that I had to find a cause to raise money for, and it had to be the right one.

I decided that I would raise money for a mental health organization. Mental health awareness is SO important. Many of those who struggle are unable to reach out or find the help they need. I decided to specifically choose a teen mental health organization because I see so many around my age struggling. Teens are constantly overlooked when it comes to mental health and depression advocacy. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about isolation and a massive change to what teens would normally be doing. This has taken a toll on the mental stability of so many, which is why it is essential to help struggling teens.

Let’s break the stigma. Let’s get teens the help they need. Let’s make improvements to the availability of resources for teens to get help.

I asked a few people what organizations they thought I would find to be the best fit for what I was trying to do and Erika’s Lighthouse was strongly recommended to me. I looked into the organization and decided that it was the perfect organization to raise funds for.

At my fundraiser, I was greeted by family, friends, and community members, all determined to help raise money for Erika’s Lighthouse. I made dozens of earrings and gave away a pair with each donation made. Those who were unable to make it in person donated online. That day, over $1,400 was raised.

I am lucky enough to be able to get the help I need. I have family and friends who support me and look out for me. I have teachers and classmates at Maine South High School who help me learn and motivate me to improve. I have my dance family at Studio 22 High Tek that makes me feel happy and appreciated. I know that without them I would not be where I am today, and I am forever grateful.

Thank you to 2 Sisters for helping me make this possible. Thank you to my friend Ella for coming with me and being there the entire time. Thank you to Erika’s Lighthouse for bringing awareness to the importance of teen depression and suicide prevention.

Click here for more information about empowering teens to change the world.

Author: CeCe Tecu, a freshman at Maine South High School, Park Ridge, IL