Teen Starts Club, Finds Happiness Helping Others
Struggling to figure out who you are in the world while juggling peer and academic pressure can be overwhelming for many teens. When my daughter, North Cobb High School student Ansley Hayman, realized the pressure was causing her to feel depressed and anxious, she sought relief and inspiration in the lyrics of the music at Warped Tour, a rock festival that includes a charity element. Serendipitously, it was there where she met members of the nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms, a group that supports people who are struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicidal thoughts. And it was there where she found the solution to her own problems. Comforted in knowing she wasn’t alone, she became motivated to find a way to reach out to others within her own community.
Ansley created a plan to start a club called “Heart to Heart” at her high school to bring about awareness and to share the solutions that helped her combat her own depression. Her request was initially denied.
Feeling convicted about her purpose, she paid a visit to the principal and presented her vision for the club. She was granted a meeting time and space for the club’s activities. Ansley worried that no one would attend the launch meeting before school. She was ecstatic when they ran out of seating because 28 students showed up. The club has since grown to more than 60 members.
What Ansley discovered was that looking beyond her own problems to help others came with the unexpected benefit of feeling happier and more satisfied herself. So the club got busy doing fundraisers and volunteering to help other groups fulfill their missions. Ansley has a favorite quote by Kevin Heath that she lives by, “Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.” She says that’s exactly what Heart to Heart is all about.
Recently, the club held a garage sale to raise funds for To Write Love On Her Arms. With a goal of raising $1,000, they were thrilled to hand over $2,517 at the event’s end. To date, they have raised more than $6,000 for many organizations including Hearts of Faith, Coins for Cure and Heart Support. They have collected items for veterans and for children’s homeless shelters. They have spent countless hours volunteering to tutor children in need every week at Hearts of Faith, working at the Atlanta Food Bank Garden, and assisting MUST Ministries and Mostly Mutts. Though students earn community service credit for participating, most have chosen to work many hours beyond those required.
As Ansley goes on to the University of Georgia next fall, she hopes the club she started will continue and spread to other schools. The group sought to make a difference while making lasting friendships and spreading positivity. It has certainly accomplished that.
By Heather Hayman, mother of Ansley Hayman