LOUISVILLE, Ky. — One Jefferson County Public Schools student was named a top Kentucky youth volunteer of 2019 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Allison Tu, a senior at duPont Manual High School, was awarded for her initiative to raise awareness about student mental health issues.
Tu told WHAS11 that she created the initiative after seeing so many of her peers struggling with everyday stress, anxiety or depression.
Through the Student Alliance for Mental Health Innovation and Action (StAMINA), Tu has raised awareness on student mental health problems, and has sought support from Kentucky leaders to combat the high rates of depression and anxiety in students throughout the state.
She has raised more than $100,000 in grants to fund her initiative, and the group has sponsored three youth summits to discuss isues and train youth advocates. StAMINA's "Youth Mental Health Ideathon" brought together students, parents and professionals as people brainstormed program ideas to bring awareness to more people.
StAMINA also did research in conjunction with the University of Louisville to dive deeper into students' perspective on their own mental health issues.
"When we looked in academic journals, we didn't see any studies that actually talked to students about their own perspectives," Tu told WHAS11 anchor Rachel Platt in 2018. "One of the most surprising things to me was that the students we talked to actually were really open and interested [in getting] better mental health education."
As a state honoree, Tu will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in early May, where she and Kentucky's other top state youth volunteer will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2019.