Fourteen-year-old Makayla is on a mission to change the way people think about themselves.
The Springfield teenager started making keychains earlier this year, etching positive affirmations on to laser-cut bamboo to try to remind people of their own self-worth.
“I was struggling with knowing my own worth and wanting validation from others,” Makayla said.
“I had a friend who was suicidal and I could see so many people putting themselves down and struggling with their mental health so I wanted to do something to help challenge the negative thoughts we all have.”
Makayla is one of several youth panellists who will be sharing her views on mental health and wellbeing for Flick the ‘swich – a live-streamed forum which will give young people the opportunity to discuss the issues that matter to them and engage with community leaders and industry representatives.
Makayla said it was important for young people to discuss mental health and how the effects of COVID-19 have added to the pressures on teenagers.
“It has affected young people because we’re spending much more time at home, so you’re on social media more and it’s easy to judge yourself against other people,” Makayla said.
“I think it’s important for everyone to talk about mental health, but especially for teenagers because it’s difficult with social media and not getting caught up with what everyone else is telling you while you’re discovering who you are.”
The ‘I AM’ project recently raised more than $3,000 through a crowd-funding campaign, helping Makayla towards her goal of buying a laser-cutter to expand her business.
The teenager said she wants to continue helping people shift their mindset into positive self-talk and challenge those negative perceptions.
“If you catch yourself thinking ‘I am ugly’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ you need to realise you’re saying it and counteract it with something positive,” she said.
Makayla will be selling her range of ‘I AM’ keychains from a market stall at Orion Springfield Central on 17 and 18 October, donating 10 per cent of profits to charity Beyond Blue.
The Flick the ‘swich 2020 youth forums will be held on Friday October 30.
Topics of discussion include Mental Health and Wellbeing, Diversity and Acceptance and Employment and Transitions to Independence, followed by reflections and recommendations from Ipswich Youth Advisory Council (IYAC).