Ava remembers filling a small pink notebook with all her worries in just one month when she was 5 years old. Ava’s anxiety would not let her fully experience life, because she was constantly in fear of the world around her. She says, “I was being controlled by my fear rather than my own decisions.”
Celebrating her strength
Ava’s journey with her mental health led her to seek care at Boston Children’s Hospital. Today, she celebrates the therapy that helped her acknowledge her own strength and taught her she is more than her anxiety. From start to finish, Ava calls her experience at Boston Children’s “incredible.”
One in five adolescents has symptoms of a mental health disorder, but they often do not have the same access to mental health care as they do for physical health care. Ava recognized this gap in care and wanted to do something about it, which began her journey as a mental health advocate for all children. “My goal is to change the way people see the day-to-day challenges of someone with mental illness. We are not just a small percentage of people. We are here and we need to be heard. That’s what I am here to advocate for.”
Ava is a member of the Children’s Advocacy Network (CAN), a group of advocates interested in the health and well-being of children and families. CAN members contribute to the advocacy efforts of Boston Children’s by sharing their stories with their state and federal lawmakers about child health issues.
Sharing her story
Ava’s most memorable experience was speaking at the Boston Children’s 2019 State House Breakfast. This event brings together more than 200 Boston Children’s employees, patients, family members, and elected officials at the State House to advocate for legislative properties that would improve the physical and mental health of children across the Commonwealth.
During the speaking program, Ava spoke alongside Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, a longtime ally and advocate for children’s mental health. She spoke to her story and her experience with her elected officials and became one of our best patient advocates ever.
Sharing her story left a profound and lasting impact on both the legislators and herself. “It felt very empowering for me because I felt as if what I had gone through was being celebrated, rather than something that should be hidden.” Ava urges everyone to use their voice and share their story to create a difference for kids.
Learn more about the Children’s Advocacy Network (CAN).
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