There are overwhelming days and there are frustrating days. There are days where nothing seems to go right. There are also hopeless days, where you don’t see a possible way out. Some people, though, make it through the next day. Some people wake up with a smile on their faces and the will to move on. Some just need more time to heal. Some people, sadly, don’t make it, and maybe if they had heard something like “I’ve got your back,” – maybe they would be alive today. Maggie Cardin wants more young people to make it by spreading “Aevidum.” This made-up word is derived from the latin root “vid,” which means “I’ve got your back.” It is also the name of the organization she founded to fight against the number three cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds: mental health. Aevidum  encourages young people to create a love-filled, inspiring, and hopeful environment in their schools either by creating a club, organizing an event or being part of a campaign. Check-out what this great organization is all about.
DoSomething.org: How did you feel when you first learned of the problem you're addressing?
Maggie Cardin: My first real experience with mental health issues was when I was 12-years-old and was faced with my own brother’s suicide. At the time, I can honestly say that I knew nothing about mental illnesses, but was thrown into this mental health arena by a baptism of fire.
DS: How do you feel about it now?
MC: I’ve since learned that suicide happens more often than one would think. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people age 15 to 24. I believe now, more than ever, we must educate the masses and erase the stigma surrounding mental illness so that this alarming statistic does not rise.
DS: What person or experience sticks with you from when you first started your project?
MC: On May 16, 2009, I reluctantly opened my laptop, as today was the day I promised myself I would finally clean up my email account. I was just about to delete all emails when my attention turned to one email message that was titled “Aevidum.” I curiously opened it and read what would be the most defining email I had ever received, just four words…“You saved my life.”
At that moment, I knew that what I was doing, what I was passionate about, I would be doing for the rest of my life. I found my life’s work!
DS: Who or what is your inspiration to keep going?
MC: Without a doubt, my main source of inspiration is my brother Philip. Losing my only sibling at a young age was devastating, but for survivors, death by suicide poses an additional set of questions that will never be answered. Everyday I think about my brother. I still miss him tremendously and my grief in a strange way is what keeps me on this journey. My grief fuels me to use my gift of voice so that no little sister ever has to stand up on a stage and talk about her brother in past tense.
DS: What was the most difficult roadblock you faced when you tried to start your project? When you were growing it?
MC: Stigma…Schools were not talking publicly about mental illness.
DS: What's been the biggest lesson through the process?
MC: The world will listen to the voices of our youth. Also, there are many, many educators in schools across the nation who believe in youth and if we can identify the teachers who inspire and believe in youth, we will empower the next generation to do something.
DS: What has surprised you the most about the journey that has taken you here today?
MC: The most surprising aspect of the Aevidum journey thus far has been how willing others are to help. I’ve never felt more empowered to reach out for help because of how positive almost every response is when we share Aevidum’s message. Everyone is affected by mental illness in one way or another and most everyone wants to help even if it’s in a small way.
DS: What advice do you have for other young leaders who are having a tough time getting their ideas off the ground?
MC: Passion. I’ll say it again – passion. Passion drives success. You can be the best singer in the world, but if you aren’t passionate about what you’re singing, nobody is going to buy your music. Similarly, you must be passionate about your cause if you want others to believe in it. Believe in yourself!
DS: If you could have done one thing differently based on what you know now, what would it be and why?
MC: I’ve learned not to take so much time regretting our missteps, but instead using them to fly higher. Regrets don’t get you anywhere, but lessons learned only make the mission stronger.
DS: What's next for your project?
MC: Next up for Aevidum is pre-service teacher training. This task is underway as I am currently working with mental health professionals and Penn State Education professors to create an Aevidum Training Model for pre-service teachers.
DS: If you could have any celebrity film a PSA for you, who would it be and why?
MC: Anderson Cooper! He’s awesome, but in addition to that, he has been personally affected by suicide. He too lost his older brother to suicide and has spoken publicly about his death and it’s affect on his family. I think the passion he displays when helping those in need would certainly shine through on an Aevidum PSA.
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