High School Senior Malcolm Asher's Globally Reaching Nonprofit Is An Example For Other Teens

High School Senior Malcolm Asher's Globally Reaching Nonprofit Is An Example For Other Teens

Making a difference has no age restrictions.

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In today's world, we all have the causes we're passionate about. And one student took his passion and turned it into action. At the age of 15 years old, Malcolm Asher decided to found ArtPass. It's a nonprofit determined to help children have better experiences at medical facilities. Still enrolled at Cleveland High School in Portland, Oregon, his success shows other youth how passion can lead to them making a worldwide impact.

What is ArtPass? According to Asher, "ArtPass takes a two-step approach in each community we serve. First, we remold children's mindset around hospitalization through our art-centric educational and advocacy curriculum. We make the hospital experience more transparent and less intimidating. This curriculum, consisting of cartoons specifically created for children no matter their English ability, is utilized by each chapter to meet the needs of individual communities. Secondly, ArtPass collects and distributes art supplies for the local healthcare facilities in these same communities to improve the experience in the facility so the child is more likely to seek medical attention the moment symptoms arise in the future." ArtPass also provides the opportunity for patients artwork to be shared with other patients, helping to eliminate the isolating feelings they can experience.

Asher explained that "while ArtPass initially started simply as a sharing-art program for my local hospital, I first-hand saw there was an even larger, unaddressed problem." That problem he went on to tell me was the vast number of children that die every year from preventable disease. According to him, that number is an outstanding 5.4 million. Due to lack of resources often the "emotional well-being' of patients isn't a concern that is addressed.

"Since wards can be 110 degrees with only five beds for 15 children, the quality of the hospital experience is severely poor for patients. This creates a stigma outside the hospital where children are so petrified of hospitalization they hide their symptoms from their parents until they are so critically ill, easily cured illnesses can become fatal, " explained Asher.

This realization led Asher to expand ArtPass. According to their website, they currently have 110 chapters registered, impacted more than 12,000 children, and have determined their educational curriculum to be 93 percent effective. They have made a global impact with their ArtPass Global Ambassadors which allows like-minded individuals to bring ArtPass to their local communities.

artpassinternational.org/global-ambassadors/

If you are interested in getting involved with ArtPass there are two ways Asher explained, "First, for every dollar donated, ArtPass can reach one more child. Because every community is so different, we provide mini-grants so chapter leaders can effectively utilize our programs and resources in ways that work for their homes. Additionally, if you're a student who would like to start a chapter of your own, you can apply on our website to become an ArtPass Global Ambassador."

"Based on our current growth rate, by the end of 2018, ArtPass expects to have registered over 175 chapters and have supported 20,000 children. Those numbers should triple by the end of 2019," said Asher. He doesn't take credit for the success. Instead, he cites support from art therapy-based nonprofits, local companies, hospital Child Life Specialists, and even some name brand companies like Taco Bell and T-Mobile. Asher also believes ArtPass has achieved success due to the lack of other organizations focusing on this area of work.

When asked what inspires Asher he stated, "I'm inspired by the students across the world who go above and beyond to help children interact with healthcare more positively. For example, Zainab is a teenage girl who lives in a Taliban-ruled community in Afghanistan. While she has a hospital in her community, children are so petrified of the conditions that they are too scared to ask for treatment. So, while risking her own safety, Zainab is pioneering her own ArtPass chapter. Habtsh is a college student in Ethiopia who has used all of his savings to launch his own ArtPass chapter as well, bringing in a large team of volunteers, and reaching over 15 different villages across Ethiopia, where he lives."

ArtPass is an example of what one person can accomplish and the impact youth can have on the causes they're passionate about. "I want people to learn that if you see a problem, no matter how big, it is possible to make real, sustainable change. For every one solution, there are three more problems out there. With support and allies on your side, no problem is too big," said Asher.

Asher offers this advice to other youth with a passion to make a difference: "Please, don't be scared to reach out to people (like me!). When I had my idea, I had no clue where to turn or if I would even be able to put my ideas into fruition. But after reaching out to other young social entrepreneurs who had been successful in their own ventures, I received priceless guidance, advice, and mentorship that propelled our growth. People want to help you — I promise!"

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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