IAM Strong Foundation
Posted by Alicia Yeh
on Apr 16, 2015
Emily Medina and Carol Morrison-Deutsch
The IAM Strong Foundation works to shatter the stigma associated with teen mental health issues, emphasizing the need to treat mental health issues no differently than physical health issues.
The evening featured Emily Medina who started the I am Strong Foundation in honor of her daughter Isabella Alexandra Medina (IAM) to provide resources to teens that may be suffering from mental illness as a means to prevent teen suicide. Emily showed us pictures of Isabella with her twin sister as well as the whole family. She looked like any other teen, happy, carefree and full of life. Therefore it stunned the whole community when Isabella took her own life on September 6, 2014. Emily wanted to channel the anguish that her whole family felt into a way to combat teen mental illness. Since founding IAM Strong in January of 2015, many strides have been made to make a real difference in the lives of local teens.
Emily Medina along with Mario Medina, Sophie Medina, Carol Morrison Deutsch, Karen Jordanides and Cheryl Morrison Deutsch had a three pronged approach. First they started working with educators in providing programming that targets mental illness in schools. They researched the top three people teens turned to when they were troubled and found that they did not go to the school counselor by default, in fact they would reach out to other teachers, lunch room staff or friends. So the IAM Strong Foundation worked with students, faculty and other school employees, not only school counselors, to look for Signs of Suicide (SOS). The important thing was to train all the people that a teen might have contact with. Second, there was an effort to utilize social media to bring awareness to the problem. The foundation has both facebook and twitter pages that reach teens as well as parents. They not only have followers in the surrounding towns but also people from different countries that shared their own stories. Finally, the foundation hopes to provide grants to people that will aid in their mission. From selling orange bracelets in the schools to working with Sisco & Berlutti to design specific bracelets, the group has been hard at work to raise the funds that will be able to provide grants. In fact in a couple of weeks on Sunday May 3 rd, there will be a 5k race at the Flahive Field next to Westwood High School.
For more information about the race and the foundation please go to http://www.iamstrongfoundation.org/.