Story of Impact: Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley and I have been involved with ForeverU since my sophomore year of high school. I am currently a ForeverU Influencer, alumni member, and I was a 2020 summer intern. I got involved with the organization in 2017 after a student from one of the local high schools took his own life.

This led to me wanting to spread awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. When I started my journey with ForeverU, I direct messaged Ryan Hesslau and shared how I wanted to make a change. So, Ryan, my mom, my friend Abby, and I all met up at a Starbucks. After our conversation, I knew right away that I wanted to be part of the mission at ForeverU. I attended their first camp in July of 2017 and that is when my life forever changed. I met some of the best people I will ever know. All the mentors through the years have made such a significant impact on my life and I now have a second family that appreciates me for who I am.

ForeverU has helped me acknowledge that having a hard time and coping with those hard times is essential. Embracing change is also something that I have learned to grow in. Growth is critical through the healing process of anything someone goes through; this makes the person better in my opinion.

I have gained so many opportunities through ForeverU. One of which was providing me with my first internship experience that introduced me to program development, project planning, and allowed me to see the “behind the scenes” at ForeverU.

I was also honored with being selected as a “ForeverU Influencer” which is something that is so important to me. As an influencer, I have the opportunity to participate in a local ForeverU peer group and help support a new generation of students involved with ForeverU.

I’ve come to realize the importance of giving youth access to a supportive community; I experienced it first hand. Knowing that I have a group of people behind me is something that I am forever grateful for. My life has changed so much by being in ForeverU. I have learned that my worth and my mental health is important and that it is valued. I now have people in my life who want me to succeed even when I may push them away. ForeverU has made me a better person and has made me express myself for who I am.

I recommend ForeverU programs because it works for anyone. It creates a safe space for students who may not have that at home, at school, or whatever other situation. ForeverU sets students up to succeed and give them coping skills that will help them later in life. I am still using many of the things I learned in ForeverU to this day.

Disclaimer: ForeverU is classified as a youth development organization. While we work closely with medical professionals and have a team of licensed mental health professionals overseeing our program, it is crucial to note that our volunteers, employees, and representatives are not medical professionals. We are a community of individuals passionate about offering hope and belonging to youth experiencing mental health challenges. Therefore, ForeverU should be utilized as an extension or “add-on” resource to youth undergoing professional treatment or receiving formal counseling services from licensed mental health professionals. The information and program we provide are meant to encourage and support students and are not meant to replace medical professionals' advice or expertise.

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