Shalini Gossain learned about AIR during her sophomore year in high school during a Leadership and Philanthropy class. Her group chose to focus on mental health for a project because of the personal connec-tion: a friend of Shalini’s had died by suicide, which led to her interest in learning more about mental health and mental illness, advocating and eliminating stigma. Shalini researched New Jersey organiza-tions and discovered AIR, and she invited Tricia to speak to her class. Soon after the class ended, Shalini began volunteering for AIR. “The more I learned about AIR, the cause and Tricia’s story, the more I wanted to work with her. I learn more about AIR every day,” Shalini said, adding that she plans to do more for AIR now that she graduated high school. She will be studying psychology and neuroscience at Rutgers University. “I’ve always been interested in how the brain works because the brain is all about mental health,” she said.
T-Shirt Design Artist Shalini Gossain
“Before I knew about AIR and suicide, I had no idea how much mental health is critical to be talked about. I’m really grateful to have met AIR. Tricia and the other volun-teers made me realize how important it is to share feelings. It’s become so hard lately and it’s not being talked about. Society is not humane anymore. AIR is bringing out that human aspect again. I have hope for AIR. I know they will continue to have a big impact on many people’s lives,” Shalini said.
Tess Cameron Shares Her Singing and Songwriting Talents at Open AIR Event August 29
Tess Cameron learned about AIR when Co-founder Tricia Baker invited her to perform at the 7th Annual Suicide Prevention Conference last year. “I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet many amazing people that day. From there, I went on to attend Summit High School in partnership with AIR to perform for the high schoolers and tell my story,” Tess said.
“I am inspired to be involved with AIR because I believe their message is so important and prevalent. I wrote the song, Say Them Anyway, about my own experience with bullying and believe that AIR provides kids a source of hope and understanding. I firmly believe in what AIR stands for and am grateful to contribute to their mission, from the musical aspect,” Tess stated.
“Before COVID, our school had two sui-cides. After one of them, AIR came in with the dogs to help. When I saw the dogs and kids interacting with them, I saw it as a sign of hope. AIR is all about bringing hope into kids’ lives and building awareness,” Shalini added.
Shalini remembers a quote from Katelyn Baker, Co-Founder of AIR – “Mental illness is like air. Just because you don’t see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It is all around us.” – which inspired Shalini’s winning t-shirt design concept. “I thought of an air balloon and designed the balloon as the brain. Air is a symbol of freedom and free space. AIR the organization is a free space for youth to gain hope and awareness about the specific topics about mental health. The air balloon is a good symbol of what AIR does,” she said.
Tess discovered her passion and talent for music at the age of 10 when her parents bought her first ukulele, which she taught herself to play, as well as the guitar. “I decided to give songwriting a shot and loved the idea of making a song of my own to share with the world,” Tess said. “Music has always been a huge part of my life and I believe music helps people connect to a topic on a deeper level.”
“My life experiences mainly inspire my songwriting, my struggles as a teen, my happiest moments in life, and my family and friends. There are many artists who also contribute to my singing style and production style as well,” Tess added.
Discover Tess’ music and learn more about her on her website and on her Facebook and Instagrampages, and follow her on Twitter.