Welcome to Breakthrough Birmingham’s very first blog post, where we give you a sneak peek of what’s taking place in the lives of the people and issues most important to us.

This week, we’re proud to highlight one of our very own exceptional Breakthrough scholars, Olivia, a current 11th grade student in Birmingham who has been with us every year since she was a rising 7th grader — way back in 2017! She had the opportunity to write the inaugural  op-ed on student mental health supports in the school building for Birmingham Coalition for Student Mental Health (BCSMH), an organization created to address student mental health disparities in Birmingham — an organization of which Breakthrough is a proud partner.

Olivia speaks from personal experiences and stresses the need for mental health improvement within schools. Approximately 31,000 Alabama students experienced a depressive episode in just one year alone, highlighting that this is an unfortunate commonality of mental health struggles amongst students, particularly during this pandemic. Our scholar advocates for the necessity of school-based supports such as in-house licensed therapists (as opposed to counselors being purely academic counselors in schools), which would aid in preventing these statistics from being the reality. Olivia concludes by asking leaders within our Birmingham community to keep these things in mind as they continue to advocate for mental health support within schools.

“[Having school-based mental health supports] would help students to see school in a more positive light—as a place where they are valued and supported.”

— Olivia, 11th Grade

We’re so proud to see the work that scholars like Olivia are putting into the world to have an impact on their local community. By using her voice to advocate for change and support students like herself, Olivia demonstrates what being Breakthrough is all about—taking ownership and stepping up to the plate. Olivia, we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you. We know that Breakthrough is successful when voices like Olivia’s are elevated to influence the decisions within the Birmingham community.

Breakthrough Birmingham works with under-resourced students in Birmingham to achieve post-secondary success while also empowering aspiring leaders to become the next generation of educators and advocates. We want you to stay updated with all of the amazing things that Breakthrough Birmingham and our scholars are doing! We’re so glad you’re here and can’t wait for you to see all of the exciting content we have coming up!

Check back in with us every other week to find out what’s happening at BTB. In the meantime, keep up with all the great things our scholars are doing by following us online (Instagram | Facebook | Twitter).

Jadyn K., 2021 Teaching Fellow

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