Cool Girls with Tag: children

Karen Humphrey Sullins

Name: Karen Humphrey Sullins
Age: 47
Location: Montgomery, Alabama
Occupation: Owner- Helping Hands Professional Counseling & Consulting, LLC and Executive Director- Hearts Of Hope, Inc a 501(c)3 company

Karen Sullins is working hard to make a difference. This counselor has turned her compassion into action, founding Hearts of Hope after serving children and families who struggled with crime and poverty and realizing that their needs were simply not being met.

“Our purpose in communities is to offer support, provide education, and empowering youth to encourage better choices and resiliency, improving relationships, building character, and improving overall mental health and wellness by infusing hope and a sense of self safety alongside leadership skills,” Karen explains.

The path toward becoming a therapist began at the age of 11, when her parents summoned her for a family meeting where they discussed becoming foster parents.

“We were a middle class family with the median 3 bedroom, 2 bath home,” Karen explains. “One of our first long-term placements was a baby boy named Jonathan who has been shaken by his mom to the point of brain damage, and we were unclear how debilitating until he became 3-4 years old. Doctors at the best hospitals spoke of him having a life expectancy of age 5; they were wrong! Completely handicapped, he remained in a wheelchair his entire 21 years, never spoke, and never got up; however he touched everyone he came in contact with with his infectious laughter. Even surgeons were amazed at this child’s desire to live.”

After Jonathan, Karen and her family fostered more than 55 sexually abused girls, taking them into their home and sharing their lives and resources with them.

“I often look back at the simple letter I wrote at age 23 nominating my parents for “Parents of the Year” for their selfless serving and giving to children who otherwise would not have had normalcy,” she reflects.

Beyond her organization and counseling efforts, Karen has also been given the opportunity to speak to legislators about school safety, following her involvement with Sandy Hook Promise.

“I stumbled across Sandy Hook Promise following a training on Active Shooter-School Safety out of state. I signed up to be a Promise Leader in my small part of the world, and to share prevention programs, and speak to people about the violence occurring in our towns and communities; particularly in the school systems,” Karen says.

By working with the Sandy Hook Promise, Karen has helped to promote suicide prevention, support the “know the signs” program, and Say Something, which is an app that allows anonymous reporting of threats to the authorities.

After receiving an email from Sandy Hook Promise informing Alabama Promise Leaders that they could attend a listening session with the Federal Commission’s Department of Education panel from Washington, D.C. that was in town, Karen knew she had to attend in order to lend a voice to the debate over arming teachers in classrooms. She met with as many Administration members as she could on the Monday before, so that she could accurately represent those counties with the fervor and insight they deserved.

“There was a feeling of urgency that if I did not speak on behalf of those who could not; I may never get their little voices out there to be heard. When I spoke, I can honestly say that I could hardly remember what I said when I sat down,” she says. “I mentioned that the Federal Commission try prevention programs before going as far as arming stressed teachers. Teachers are educators, not police officers.”

And what advice does Karen have for young women?

“Find people and things that build your own armor, as life and people will most definitely disappoint you, but be brave enough to face disappointments, as an individual, as a young lady, and as a contributing part of the world that needs our insight and unique abilities, so that our future world is a place we anticipate being a part of,” she says. “Be courageous enough to be the difference.”

For her tireless service to the community, and her relentless desire to “stop the violence,” we think Karen Sullins is a very Cool Girl!

A $200 donation was made to Hearts of Hope on behalf of Karen. You can donate here.

Lindsay Amer

Cool Girl Lindsay AmerName: Lindsay (Lindz) Amer
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Artist/Activist

Artist and activist Lindsay Amer has turned the world into a stage for all audiences and actors through her Queer Kid Stuff edutainment YouTube channel. Lindsay has dedicated her young career to bridging the gap in theater and education for LGBTQ+ kids.

As a theater student in Northwestern University, Lindsay learned the ropes in producing for younger audiences, a skill that she honed during her Masters program in performance studies overseas. It was during her graduate studies in London that she stumbled upon an area that she was passionate enough to turn into a profession.

“I was learning new techniques and I started growing frustrated with the limitations theater presents, particularly for the kind of work I’m trying to do that gets censored by schools,” Lindsay explains. “I was watching a lot of YouTube at the time and thought that would be a good platform for what I wanted to do. I googled “what does gay mean?” out of curiosity and found that the only things that came up were a dictionary definition and a few resources for parents and teachers, but there was nothing specifically made for kids. I wanted to make a digital resource actually made for the young people who might ask google that question. And I just checked and our very first video pops up now in that search!”

For Lindsay, it was merely a process of trying to entertain and inform young audiences who are often deprived of certain inclusive, queer storylines as they’re growing up.

Cool Girl Lindsay Amer's Show Queer Kid Stuff

“I’ve been doing queer work for kids since undergrad, but I started in theater first where I was making new work for young audiences. I just fell in love with all-ages storytelling and saw a gaping void in LGBTQ+ content and themes in the work,” Lindsay recalls. “The first time I encountered a piece written for young people with a queer protagonist, I was completely blown away and I knew it’s what I had to start working toward. I’ve pretty much been doing this work ever since.”

Most recently, through the wide audience of digital media, Lindsay and Queer Kid Stuff have been able to reach more and more people, and to inch closer towards their goal of “a kinder and more equal future.” That’s not to say that the broad horizon of the internet has been entirely filled with admiring followers. Lindsay still is constantly reminded of the discrimination and stigma that queer people, young and old, still face.

“I get a lot of online harassment, but, to be honest, I’m kind of over it at this point. There’s so much systemic oppression working against queer people, women, and trans/non-binary people and talking about it all and creating narratives around it is still incredibly taboo,” she says.

By using art as advocacy, even when confronting trolls, Lindsay is able to fulfill her creative dreams and help other young people learn how to feel comfortable in their own skin and society.

Beyond her internet videos and her day job, Lindsay is also looking to bring her vision to the stage. “I’m directing and writing a play for my theater company! It’s Bluelaces Theater Company based in NYC and we make immersive sensory-based theater for people on the autism spectrum and other developmental differences. The show’s all about imaginary trains! It’s cool!”

So what advice does this YouTube star have for anyone starting out in artistic or advocacy endeavors?

“If you love it, do it and be it. Don’t listen to what other people want you to do, or think, or say, or be. Listen to yourself and your wants and needs and just do you. You’ll be so much happier for it.”

We think that Lindsay Amer’s work bringing Queer Kid Stuff to the masses makes her one Cool Girl!

See, read, and hear more of Lindsay’s work on her YouTube channel, website, and Twitter.

 

Mary Joyce

Name: Mary Joyce
Age: 32
Location: Long Island, New York
Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Mary Joyce is at the head of the class, not just as a special education teacher, but also as a yoga instructor in her home of Long Island, New York. Growing up, Mary surmounted injuries as well as stereotypes, practicing karate when she was 16, and hitting her yoga mat even after shoulder injuries,. She also refuse to quit on her snowboard even when her tailbone and her pride told her to stay away from the slopes and stay in the chalet.

She credits the endless love and support of her mom and dad for keeping her going, even when the stress of work, graduate school, and a grueling roster of physical activities, threatens to exhaust her. She also is quick to point out that her students are – and have always been – incredibly influential and inspiring.

“All the children I work with, and that I’ve worked with in the past, have each been more of a teacher to me than I could ever explain,” she says.

All the children I work with, and that I’ve worked with in the past, have each been more of a teacher to me than I could ever explain.

Between the deadlines and workload of school, both being at the chalkboard and buried in books as a student herself, Mary has to find a way to blow off some steam. While yoga is great for mellowing her mood, she cites snowboarding with being the biggest stress-reliever. Her arctic air affair began four years ago, when her friends managed to get her on a mountain. Unfortunately, she didn’t start carving turns with grace and ease. “My first experience wasn’t a positive one,” she says. “By the the second time I went I managed to break my tailbone which put me out for the season. I felt very discouraged because I didn’t pick up the sport as easily as others. For years after that my close friend harassed me on a weekly basis, but my fear and aggravation of learning something new and difficult held me back.”

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