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She quit her job to help folks with disabilities find theirs. It's working.

Where her country only saw disabilities, she saw real people who have a lot to give. Here are the lessons she's learned along the way.

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Facebook #SheMeansBusiness

Angkie Yudistia started a business to give the 37 million people in Indonesia who have a disability a chance at the training and skills they deserve.

Image via Facebook, used with permission.


She would know about that. She herself is hard of hearing.

She was familiar with the lives of folks with disabilities — a life that was, in fact, her life. But still, Thisable, an independent foundation that empowers people living with a disability to be financially independent, was going to be her first business venture ever. She even quit her job to pursue it.

And she learned a lot along the way. It wasn't easy for Angkie to start her business, but she did it anyway. And by learning from her, we might all be one step closer to making our own firsts happen!

Here are some lessons in starting a socially conscious business from someone who knows: Angkie!

1. You'll have to take a financial and personal risk.

That's just how it is.

2. You may have to give up a stable job — and your regular income.

Angkie was a well-paid marketing communication officer, but she knew she had to give that up to do what she dreamed of doing.

3. You might have a lack of business experience, but do your best.

Know that each mistake is a learning opportunity. Angkie says, "Being an entrepreneur is hugely rewarding, but there can be moments when things aren’t going perfectly and it can affect your morale."

4. Your parents might not come around at first.

Recently featured in an article through Facebook, Angkie says her parents really got on board when they saw how their daughter had actually turned her calling into a business.

5. Take time for yourself AND be a great entrepreneur.

As Angkie told Facebook, she'll even bring her husband and daughter to overseas meetings with her — just to make sure she spends as many weekends with them as possible.

6. Have someone to support you and help you keep your life in balance.

Her husband really supports her finding balance. She said he's "happy to pitch in around the house" which helps her keep work and life on an even keel.

7. Use social media.

It's clear from Angkie's Facebook page that she has many stories to tell. But her Instagram presence has helped her build her personal brand so much that it led to a publishing deal to tell the story of her personal journey from marketing executive to a budding, blossoming entrepreneur.

8. Sometimes business as usual isn't enough. Especially if you want to change what's usual.

Thisable Enterprise is more than just an organization that provides training to people with disabilities (though that would be plenty). To truly change the way Asia — and Indonesia specifically — views disability, Thisable had to get in the trenches. With Angkie at the helm, Thisable is lobbying governments and private and public companies.

9. Mentorship matters.

Thisable, and Angkie in particular, emphasize providing mentorship to participants.

10. Working together helps us all.

Angkie works with corporate social responsibility programs at various businesses in order to drum up employment opportunities for the community she has formed of people with disabilities.

11. Giving people power over their own destiny isn't just good for the world, it's good for the economy.

By giving the 37 million people with a disability in Indonesia a stronger start, Angkie is giving her homeland vast new natural resources — people and talent. Imagine the potential of so many new, skilled, happy, and supported people.

Thisable has only just begun its mission to redefine disability. But it's safe to say that Angkie has learned a great deal by taking the plunge and starting her own thing.

Here's to female entrepreneurs who are making the world a better place, running a business, and proving to the world that they deserve a position of power.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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