YOU HAVE A DAD IN ME
After walking his own daughter down the aisle, Dan Levins, a 45-year-old hairstylist from East Tennessee, couldn’t imagine anyone missing out on that special moment so he took to TikTok, offering to stand in as a dad to any LGBTQIA+ couples who were missing their parents on their special day. The video, which has now amassed over 60,000 views, has created a supportive network with a Facebook group of 35,000 members.
“I thought I was creating a group for people to physically connect but there are many more virtual connections happening now than walking someone down the aisle. We’ve had a few weddings, but the majority of what’s happening in the group has been people building friendships and family,” Levins told Mindful.
From tomato jam to embroidered handkerchiefs, The Craftivist Collective is adding a new tool to the activism toolbox—Craftivism. In 2008, Sarah Corbett, the collective’s founder, felt burned-out by the confrontational nature of activism. Compelled to explore other ways she could make a difference, she stumbled upon craftivism, a form of activism that nudges people to stop, think, and act through the use of handcrafted objects. Since then the collective has hosted group stitch-ins, sent out handwritten notes to policy makers, and crafted solidarity banners that have been hung all over the world, all following the motto on their website that reads, “If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind, and just, then let’s make our activism beautiful, kind, and just.”
FIGHT FIRE WITH MINDFULNESS
Gina Rollo White, founder of not-for-profit Mindful Junkie, is no stranger to teaching mindfulness to first responders. The program she created, Tactical Brain Training, helps them learn to downregulate stress and safely navigate jobrelated trauma. This year, she’s aiming high: training all the firefighters in DC, through a partnership with Hath’s Heroes (founded by Capitals hockey player Garnet Hathaway and his wife Lindsay). The connection to hockey isn’t only “exciting and fun,” it reinforces her training, says Rollo White: Mindfulness skills support the physical intensity, focus, and stress management required to succeed, whether you need to hit the ice or fight a fire.
WEAR IT WELL
At 16, Prasidha Padmanabhan has a mission: to gain equality for all women, with a focus on uplifting those long ignored or silenced. The Indian American student in Fairfax County, VA, founded the student-led organization Women for Education, Advocacy & Rights (WEAR) in 2020 after witnessing comments online about disenfranchising women.
Among WEAR’s achievements so far: collaborating with local schools to update curricula with BIPOC women’s history; holding women’s rights webinars at schools and publicly; and fundraising for supplies to donate to women’s shelters.
BE THE LIGHT
Author Monica Paraghamian and illustrator Amy Kazandjian aim to kindle explorations of healing and resilience for the thousands of families displaced by the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The two Armenian-Canadians collaborated on a second edition of Paraghamian’s mindfulness-based children’s book Precious Light, translating into Eastern Armenian, with new artwork by Kazandjian that features Armenian iconography. “Hopefully it opens the door to helping process some pain and allowing them to fully form healthy identities in themselves and as Armenians so that they can thrive,” Kazandjian says. The pair are partnering with Armenian youth support organizations to offer the book to displaced families and children.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KARLY SANTIAGO / UNSPLASH, SHARON MCCUTCHEON / UNSPLASH. ILLUSTRATIONS BY AMY KAZANDJIAN, SPENCER CREELMAN ■