Project Spotlight

Hero Diaries -Sanah

Sanah at the Austin Accelerator

Sanah is a Peace First accelerator winner and the founder of The Love Your Natural Self Foundation. The Love Your Natural Self Foundation has impacted 50,000 students and 150 schools. She applied for a Rapid Response grant after she saw the opportunity for COVID-19 submissions on social media. Sanah’s project was created to address the lack of social and emotional learning programming in K-12 campuses. She believes that every student deserves the resources to thrive and celebrate who they are. This is Sanah’s story.

“When I first heard about COVID-19 and how serious it was, I was in Texas visiting family and friends during spring break. My initial thoughts were thoughts of panic. I immediately found out that my campus was going to be closed for the remainder of the semester. As a first-generation low-income student, I rely on my campus for my income, housing, and security. When I found out my campus closed, I felt alone and afraid. I didn’t know where to go or who to turn to. I didn’t even know where I was going to be living for the next few months. I felt selfish worrying so much about my own needs and not the needs of others, however, I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to meet my basic needs.

There are so many people I love who have been impacted. My life has also been impacted substantially. I work with students, and it is clear that the education system has been significantly impacted. I know all too well that school can be the place that you go for security. Growing up in a household that struggled with domestic violence, school was my safe space, both mentally and physically. Even now when my campus closed, I felt panicked. I still rely on school for a lot of my security. My heart aches for the students who rely on their campuses to meet their basic needs. I worry and wonder if their needs are going to be met.

I incorporated a COVID-19 response into my accelerator grant. With part of my accelerator grant, I was planning to visit K-12 campuses to provide them with social and emotional learning programming, hoping to use their feedback to create effective programming guides. However, I moved this process virtual. Now more than ever, students need access to mental health resources and social and emotional learning. The love your natural self foundation is committed to providing this programming especially in this time of crisis.

Every day, I learn more and more, that you have to make peace with yourself before you can bring peace to the world. As mentioned earlier, I felt guilty for worrying about my own needs. However, only with these needs met, was I able to help others. Now, I am in a safe space and I can fully and effectively serve others. Peace starts from within. Over the last few weeks, we have hosted digital assemblies with over 5000 students.

Young people can change the world. I started my project when I was just 15 years old. I was the most equipped to handle this issue, because I was experiencing it firsthand. Young people know how to address these issues because they are experiencing them every single day. It is important that we trust and believe in young people.”