A Week in Texas with M.I.N.T.
I returned on Saturday from a crazy packed few days in Houston with M.I.N.T., my nonprofit. It's National Mental Health Day today, so it only seems right that I spend today promoting how important mental health is!
When I landed in Houston, I went right to my hotel. I stayed at the Royal Sonesta Houston, which is one of my go-to hotels in Houston. I either stay downtown or by the Galleria, and each time, the hotels get better. I was in back to back meetings for the entire time, so I didn't get to spend as much time as I wanted at the hotel, but we did get to enjoy a lovely dinner and some time by the pool! The hotel surprised my friends and I with an insanely delicious meal consisting of everything on the menu, as you can see below...
I ate all of the pasta. One chick, one bowl of pasta.
But back to the school talks! The first school I met with was a pretty prestigious prep school in Houston- apparently, they lead the way for all things prep school in Texas. I haven't met with a school, without students around, in a while, so I was nervous going into the meeting about what their response would be. I was shocked at how much the team knew about social media, cutting, sexting, and bullying. The principal seemed to know more than I knew!
They are interested in heaving M.I.N.T. come and present, so I followed-up with some information about our program after our meeting. From there, I met up with my videographer and went straight to Fusion Academy. This school is like no other. I was totally unprepared for the setup. Immediately upon stepping into the school, we were greeted with warm welcomes and hugs. Unlike most packed public schools, this one was small, intimate, and totally different. The students spend their time learning how to produce music, take pictures, and write, along with required classes like math and science. This school is located on the top floor of the Houston Galleria, which is the massive mall in the center of the city.
We talked about bullying and following your dreams, before I realized I was out of time! Since this school environment is so laid-back, we didn't have to go heavy on the deeper topics like cutting and sexting. The great thing about a school like this is that everyone knows each other, and the students feel like they can talk to the teachers as open as they can be with their friends.
From this school, we ventured to a different part of Texas, about 20 minutes South. Eastwood Academy is a much larger public school. We ended up presenting two talks (I guess they liked us, a lot) over 2.5 hours, on social media and sexting. An ongoing theme we found was that many students felt like their grades defined them. They either felt "less good" about who they are, or "less worthy of opportunities" depending on their grades. It hurt my heart so see how many teenagers feel like they aren't going to be successful if they don't have straight A's. Steve and I demonstrated how we didn't get 100% on every test in school, yet we've managed to follow our dreams and make careers for ourselves.
Just remember: nothing defines you besides your incredible personality.