A Teen’s Tips on Summer Extracurriculars and Making an Impact!

Guest post by Teen Advisory Group (TAG) member Anesha Santhanam

What’s up y’all?  I’m Anesha Santhanam, a rising junior in high school and a member of the FARE Teen Advisory Group, and I’m back again with another article on tips for teens with food allergies! If you’re eager to make the most out of your summer for high school and beyond but also want to stay healthy and safe, this article is for you.

Let’s talk about your summer plans: have you ever wanted to attend residential summer camps or overnight/study abroad programs, but haven’t taken up these opportunities due to concerns about managing your food allergies away from home? Even though it can be daunting to be away from home, having to be prepared in case of a reaction, don’t be discouraged! Once you learn to self-administer your medication, read labels, and be self-reliant, you can gain the courage and confidence to venture out into the world with your food allergies!

In the meantime, there are several other options for summer plans. I’ve also faced similar situations where even though I qualified for many of these exciting programs, I couldn’t attend. At the time, my family was hesitant about sending me alone and taking the risk. I still wanted to have a unique and productive summer experience that I enjoyed, but I also wanted to make an impact in the community. So, to solve my summer extracurricular dilemma, I decided to have a summer experience right from home!

I have a passion for STEM, arts and entrepreneurship. I combined my skills and founded an online/on-site educational company that offers STEM learning, technology training for tweens, teens, adults and seniors, and academic mentorship for middle and high school kids. Through my company, I am able to help my community, have a productive summer, and follow my passion!

You too can find opportunities right from home and still make an impact. Here are some activities that not only add to your college portfolio, but they are also fun and provide new experiences:

For all the learners:  Take online courses in your area of interest and learn skills that you can apply to your passion and build on in the future. These courses usually open up windows to other opportunities, and many have discussion forums that provide help and connections with other people.

For all the artists: If you’re creative and great at artwork or design, enhance your skills and start creating! Create pieces of artwork that represent you, your fight for a social cause (which could be food allergies or anything else you might have to deal with) and show your personality through your art. You can publish your art in magazines that accept community artwork. Trust me, many are looking for great artists. Or you can even start putting together a portfolio of what you have created. If you are applying to be a design or art major, a portfolio of your work is something most colleges ask for in your application.

For all the musicians: Compose, compose, compose! Composing is original and there are so many ways you can use your music. You can publish it on music media websites or even submit your original music for music competitions (you can find many music competitions online if you search for them—all they require is for you to submit an MP4 of your music). Something huge that you can do is copyright your music. I’ve done it before with my original songs, and it’s a relatively easy process. Copyrighting can be done online, and it shows that you are published and that your originality has been recognized.

For all the writers: Start writing your own stories, articles, poems, or editorials and send them to magazines and newspapers. Getting published is a huge accomplishment and is very impressive. If you are super ambitious, start your own blog or write your own book!

For all the engineers, innovators and makers: Create your own product! There are many competitions you can enter your prototype or design in, and one is the FARECon Featuring Teen Summit Innovation Tank! Design something that helps others or benefits your community. And if you want to take your product a step further, create a business for it!

For all the movie makers: Create a YouTube channel! Whatever your passion is—making movies, giving study tips to others, or even cooking allergy-friendly meals—you can turn this passion into your own YouTube channel. Posting videos on YouTube helps the community in a major way. You can even gain traction by getting featured on other websites and gaining subscribers, likes, and comments. Don’t underestimate the power of your community!

I hope these ideas have inspired you to find your area of interest and make a positive impact in your community this summer. Eventually, you’ll become more independent and gain the confidence you need: don’t hold yourself back! Become self-reliant, advocate for your food allergies, and go make your mark on the world! Peace out.

 

Anesha Santhanam, 16 years old, is a member of FARE’s Teen Advisory Group from New Jersey and is allergic to all nuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, shellfish, and penicillin.

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