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Pictured above: Discovery High School students with one of their instructors

Discovery High School Speaks Out On Gun Violence, Self-Care and School Culture

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VOX ATL was invited to bring the mic to teens at Discovery High School in Gwinnett County to guide them in sharing their thoughts on topics that were meaningful to them.  Among them were mental health, self-care and building school culture. Read below to see what teens at Discovery High School had to say.

*Teens were given the option to share their names.


Mental Health

“The World Health Organization states ‘the consequence of failing to address adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.'”– Diana Argueta Gallardo, Jr. 

“So, I have anxiety and sometimes speaking out in groups and having all the attention on me really affects my speech, my movement and expressions. Before diagnosed I always tried to communicate why I always tried to avoid anything that would make me sort of anxious or try and see if I could get help in a way that it couldn’t be  as bad as it was. But most adults I would talk to would just brush me off, saying I was just not wanting to present, and it would make me feel worse. [They] felt like it was just an excuse to not do anything, but as I started to be more aware of how and why I was feeling this way I went to get help from people who I knew would help me. So, I think it’s important for adults to listen to kids because it’s real. A lot of illnesses like depression, anxiety, and ADHD are found in teens.” – Stephanie E.U.

“For me personally, I have been stressed with tests and assignments, and it’s not just me. So, by me speaking out, others are more comfortable in speaking out. Mental health is different things to everyone, like depression and anxiety.” – Name withheld

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“I remember waking up one morning and I was just tired and felt like not doing anything, and I just wanted to stay in bed. Later that morning, my dad walked in and asked me if I was okay, and I don’t know what happened, but I broke down and just told him all the stuff that was on my mind.” – Name withheld

Gun Violence

“It’s been going on for too long. Gun laws should’ve been implemented by now, we’re failing kids. [Gun violence] surpassed death by cars. A long time ago, I was at Lenox Mall, and we heard a woman yell, “active shooting!” I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I did hear a shot. In that moment, I was terrified, heart pounding as I was running with my mom. ” – Kelly de Leon

“Abusing gun use [is] no longer as self-defense but taking innocent lives like school shootings. Innocent lives shouldn’t be lost because of gun abuse. ” – Diana Jesus

Self-Care

“Self-care can mean anything as long as you’re taking care of yourself. I feel self-care is important because without taking care of yourself life is undermined. The National Institute of Health states self-care can help manage stress, lower the risk of illnesses, and increase your energy, which all help boost positive energy towards one’s mental health. I can advocate myself because I too struggle with mental health and most of the time it hits you when you least expect it. For instance, you could think you are feeling better, or you got over the situation, yet when you get a moment to yourself you don’t feel like anything’s changed and you’re back to square one. So, I feel protecting self-care is very important to learn more about yourself and your feelings can increase one’s self-awareness and in turn can help recognize trigger points or when you feel like when a break is needed. ” – Desta

Building School Culture

One of the teens in the workshop defined school culture as “values, behaviors, and differences that impact how the school operates,” and wrote: “It is important to come together as one and acknowledge our differences, rather than dividing into smaller cliques.” – Name withheld

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“I see our school containing students with so many different backgrounds such as race, ethnicities, hobbies, etc. These differences in our society lead to commotions such as fights, verbal and physical bullying. These differences are not factors that should be dividing us but rather help us come together and celebrate the things that make us unique, which makes our school more special. ” – Nishi


Like what you saw here? VOX ATL will work with your group to help teens create content through peer-led workshops and/or publishing activities they can manage independently. VOX ATL’s workshops and podcast recordings are available by request and availability. Click here for more info.

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