Moving In New Directions for Mental Wellness
The Miss America Social Impact Initiative of
Jasmin Kotek, Miss Hastings 2022
The Miss America Organization (MAO) requires each of its candidates and titleholders to advocate a cause she is inspired to promote. While this prerequisite may surprise some, it’s a primary draw for those who serve their community with the MAO. Why? Our organization, including the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program (MHSP), gives young women a platform to put their education to work and help others.
Called a Social Impact Initiative (SII), each young woman chooses a passion she wants to support and plans how she’ll bring it to life. Her crown and title provide the means to accomplish it. Currently, the Miss America Organization helps Miss America 2022, Emma Broyles, promote her SII called Building Community through Special Olympics. A junior at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, Emma is a biomedical science major to become a dermatologist. The Miss America crown is a spotlight that opens doors for Emma to advocate her SII and “help people from all walks of life be heard and respected through practicing inclusion.”
#MINDwell: Moving in New Directions for Mental Wellness is the SII of Jasmin Kotek, Miss Hastings 2022. Its focus is to provide additional mental health resources specific to our youth, allowing students and faculty to thrive in an uplifting, healthy atmosphere. She also aims to inform, influence, and unite our schools and communities on the journey to mental wellness by creating an open dialogue within it across each generation. The issue is personal to Jasmin. She lost a cousin to suicide when she was nine and almost lost her mom for the same reason six years later. Mental health resources were not made available to Jasmin in these critical moments. Therefore, she hopes to provide a path for others now to what she needed then.
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less."
Madam Marie Curie - physicist. chemist, and researcher
One method Jasmin uses to advocate mental wellness in schools and communities is her #ExhaleProject initiative. It creates a visible and virtual widespread mental health movement to bring students together from across Minnesota. Students have crafted over 2,000 bracelets with positive messages that promote how to “inhale the positive” and “exhale the negative.” #ExhaleProject has reached students beyond Minnesota to over thirteen states and hopes to impact all fifty states. Jasmin also supports its mission by attending community events and activities, promoting her Social Impact Initiative. It dovetails perfectly with her service as Miss Hastings and has the potential to grow should she win the Miss Minnesota title.
Another way Jasmin influences change in mental health within schools is through implementing a four-part mental health initiative at Minnesota State University – Mankato. To her credit, it expanded to Yale University and several other campuses. This initiative provides access to telehealth services, unlimited counseling services, free first-aid mental health training to students and faculty, and an online mental wellness education program to deliver mental health resources to the student body. It also collects anonymous data for the university to determine where needs and improvements occur in real-time. These interventions ensure the campus continues to create a positive, healthy environment. Looking ahead as Miss Minnesota, Jasmin aims to introduce this initiative to primary and secondary institutions across the state, adapting it to the needs of each student body.
"Influencing change in mental health within all schools across the state can start with one."
- Jasmin Kotkek, Miss Hastings 2022
So what can we do to help? Start small. Smile. Be kind. Give the benefit of the doubt. Pay it forward. Give without expecting anything in return. Simple gestures of courtesy can positively encourage our communities and leaders and unify us to provide a positive response with our mental health approach. Jasmin’s goal is simple: to be the person she once needed for others. We can help by doing the same.
To schedule Miss Hastings for a service opportunity, a speaking engagement, or an appearance, please contact us here. Follow her year of service and SII activities on Facebook as @MissHastings2022, Instagram as @MissHastingsMN.2022, and on her blog.
On behalf of Miss Hastings 2022 and the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program, thank you for your interest and support in Jasmin's Social Impact Initiative and year of service!