Former YEA Camper Noor Aldayeh has highlighted her passions for years on social media and has been a major advocate for mental health awareness. Her activism after camp has left us speechless and we can’t wait to see where her passion for social justice takes her!
We are so excited to share Noor’s journey with you and hope it inspires you as much as she continues to inspire us!
YEA Camp: Hey, Noor! Tell us about the activism you’ve been doing.
Noor: My biggest focus and current activism had been mainly centered around mental health awareness, although within the past few months I’ve also been able to involve myself with many other issues. I’ve created activism-related videos on my YouTube channel, have written articles for my personal blog and HS Insider (a youth journalism program), and have also founded the Education Emotion Project (EEP!) through an international leadership organization. EEP! is a project centered around providing mental health information and resources to youth who need and/or want to spread awareness throughout their communities. I’m also currently working on creating the first ever Mental Health Week at my school, where we will encourage students and teachers to engage in discussions about mental health while providing education as to how to be proactively aware of the many issues and stigmas surrounding these subjects.
YEA: Incredible! How did you get involved with activism and what you’re currently working on?
NA: YEA Camp exposed me to so many movements I wasn’t aware of before, and I’m forever thankful for them for being able to broaden the activism I’ve been able to be a part of lately. I can also honestly thank a large majority of the current activism I’m a part of to the internet, as well as the many nonprofits centered around issues I am passionate and care about. Without these resources I don’t think I ever would have known where to start in terms of these issues, and they were a vital starting point to everything I’ve been able to be a part of.
YEA: What challenges have you faced as an activist and how have you dealt with them?
NA: There are many challenges that you can face once you begin your activism journey, whether it be backlash from others or your own personal struggles. At first I felt as though the world was against me and my activism, but over time I realized that that was not really what was holding me back. Not everyone will agree with what you are doing, and that is okay. As long as you’re able to stay true to what you believe, but also know that nothing is set in stone, I think being able to pursue action becomes that much easier.
I think my biggest challenges have truly been personal ones; I tend to think that everything I do is not enough, and for a while I let that hinder me from actually trying to achieve my goals. But over time I’ve realized that there is absolutely nothing to lose and that doing nothing will never result in any change. Getting over listening to that voice in my head has made the biggest difference in what I’ve been able to do, and as a result has also positively impacted how I communicate with others.
YEA: What advice do you have for new activists just getting involved?
NA: Just do it. I think we all have at least one thing in the world that we are incredibly passionate about — or affects us personally — that we want to change. But that change will not happen on its own! You do have the power to spark a change in your community, and I feel like even though we’re all taught to try and “change the world”, no one truly encourages us to take action. Small actions are a great place to start. Find an issue you care about; do as much research and obtain as much knowledge and resources that you can; and from there, decide what the best mode of action would be. Is that creating an awareness week at school? Creating a club? Joining a nonprofit? Volunteering? The possibilities are endless, and you can never predict how big of an impact a seemingly small action can have.
YEA: How did YEA Camp help you in your activism, if it did?
NA: I think YEA Camp was kind of the spark to my flame in terms of my activism journey. I’d always felt passionately about many issues, and wasn’t afraid of expressing my opinion regarding them, but I never knew how to turn that into palpable action. Being able to be in an environment that cultivated change and constant encouragement amongst its campers and staff made me realize why I started getting into activism in the first place. It’s not just to yell and scream or to complain about the things that we don’t like, but rather to push for action in order to ensure that we have a better future.
YEA: Aw! We’re so glad YEA Camp helped you find your voice and sparked your passion. What activist goals do you have in the future?
NA: I know that this may sound far-fetched, but my ultimate goals in terms of activism would be to spark as much positive change in as many communities that I can. I hope to continue to pursue action that I’m passionate about and that can help or inspire others. Personally, I would love to work with a mental health related nonprofit in the future. Currently, I work with NEDA (the National Eating Disorders Association) and volunteer with a few other organizations! Ultimately, I want to always be open to hearing about others stories and learning from them, and in addition to that be able to be a part of as many movements that cultivate positive change as possible.
YEA: Are there any organizations you’ve been working with?
NA: This year I’ve been able to work more closely with NEDA, as well as volunteer for AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). I hope to get involved with even more organizations that are centered around a variety of issues, but as of right now this is where I’m at!
YEA: Anything else you want to tell us?
NA: I just hope that no matter what, you know that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Sometimes even the people who you thought would support you the most are hesitant to encourage your actions, but if you know that what your doing is for the greater good, don’t let that stop you. Have faith in yourself, homies!
Noor is 16 years old and a junior in high school. She lives in Torrance, California and attended the 2017 Massachusetts session of YEA Camp. And she made this awesome video about her experience at YEA Camp!