Care Solace’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is made up of 6 young people from our partnering school districts. Each month, the council meets with Care Solace staff to discuss mental health issues in their schools. Seventeen year old Akiah Louis from Academy of Innovation chose to be a Care Solace Youth Advisor because she knows many of her peers don’t have an understanding adult in their corner. She believes YAC gives her an opportunity to share insights with adults who care and build connections and understanding with other teens.
We asked Akiah to share with us in writing what empowerment means to her. Here is her (inspiring!) answer:
Empowerment is very personal to me. It means that I have the ability to make my own decisions and that I possess the power to influence those around me. Being empowered means feeling comfortable in my skin and knowing my worth. Empowerment also means I have the authority to confront any gender disparity.
I feel particularly empowered to pursue a Chemistry degree in college. Only 7.8% of chemists are Black females. I am eternally grateful for the women who paved the way for me and other women today.
I believe social media holds both the potential forces of empowerment and disempowerment. There’s plenty of information, opportunity, and insight available to me via social media, but I know “cancel culture” and misinformation can be disempowering.
The person who makes me feel most empowered is my mom. I am privileged enough to have a mother who supports me as I take risks and make decisions. For example, she trusted me when I wanted to start a natural soap business. She supports my business and encourages me to keep pursuing it — and any other goal and or dream I have.
In my opinion, an adult can empower me by allowing me to voice my opinion. Voices carry power, and so to silence my voice is to take my power along with it. I’m also empowered when I’m allowed to set boundaries for myself. Then I won’t neglect my needs and I won’t become an adult who “people pleases.” Last, I’m empowered when I’m allowed to have feelings and not hide them. That allows me to process what I am feeling as well as grow emotionally.