How Two Young Female Entrepreneurs Use Their Love for the Arts to Advance Their Community

Female Entrepreneurs

The COVID19 pandemic inspired countless adults to reassess their career and life choices and perhaps make some changes. But it was not only adults that felt they could have a greater impact. Two young female entrepreneurs felt compelled to share their love for the performing arts with their communities. Their goal: improve confidence and mental health among children and create performing arts opportunities for others.

How Mental Health Challenges Created a Spark

In the early days of the pandemic, stories about mental health challenges among kids and teenagers abounded. Uncertainty, lockdowns, and fear of the disease put additional pressure on young people who already felt the need to perform at school and beyond.

While external demands continued to mount, many felt their confidence drop, often because they were unable to express themselves, demonstrate their talents, and realize their potential. About one-third of high-school students reported mental health challenges during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A Johns Hopkins survey found that nearly one in five young people suffered from an increase in depression.

While those figures are rightly giving cause for concern, they inspired two accomplished young artists. Elite dancer Madeleine Chen and award-winning musician Elizabeth Echt decided to use their love of performing arts for the benefit of young people in the wider community. They founded Vision for Confidence (V4C), a non-profit with the goal of supporting aspiring artists on their journey and sharing the mental health benefits with their wider community.

How Fine Arts Supports Mental Health

For years, evidence of the mental health benefits of exposure to and participation in fine arts has been mounting up, both anecdotally and scientifically. For example, studies have shown a connection between fine arts activities and increased mental health and well-being in those affected by autism.

Madeleine and Elizabeth believe that every young person can benefit from easier access to fine arts activities, whether they are dealing with a disability or suffering from low confidence in general. One of their most recent target groups includes young people with rare diseases. Their conditions have been linked with a higher risk of feelings of isolation and other mental health problems, including low self-esteem.

Aside from these specific groups, the two entrepreneurs are looking to create performing arts opportunities for young children and teens who would otherwise have missed out. Although arts feature in many schools’ curriculums, funding cuts in the public school system have made access to fine arts education and related opportunities more difficult.

As a result, talented children and teenagers have been missing out on an important creative outlet, and some are missing once-in-a-lifetime career opportunities. V4C is attempting to make up for the shortfall.

“We’ve been involved in fine arts from a very young age, and we realize that the resources that were given to us are not necessarily available to a lot of other kids outside of our own community,” says V4C co-founder Madeleine Chen.

“That inspired us to create a program that supplies resources and monetary support to students who want to pursue the arts as a career when they get older.”

Since the non-profit’s inception, the team has been able to raise nearly $30,000 in scholarship funds and has started transforming lives. In June 2021, for example, V4C awarded a travel scholarship to an exemplary young artist at The Dallas Conservatory. The scholarship allowed her to participate in the national finals of the New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA), an incredible opportunity she would have otherwise had to miss.

The result speaks for itself. The scholarship recipient used the opportunity to win a $100,000 scholarship to PACE University’s commercial dance program, successfully laying foundations for continued education and a career in the arts.

A Wider Vision for Confidence and Mental Health

With early success stories confirming that the organization is on a promising path, founders Madeleine and Elizabeth have not lost sight of their bigger vision.

“I think there is a direct link between confidence and success, and we want to help other children attain both of those things through performing arts,” says Madeleine.

Psychologists believe that projecting confidence helps people gain credibility, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. All of those could also be considered prerequisites for success.

The V4C founders believe that performing arts can become a gateway to growing confidence for children from less privileged backgrounds, or those with disabilities or rare diseases. They are poised to share their skills and passion not only by teaching the arts but also by establishing long-term relationships with scholarship recipients and others.

The V4C founders believe that arts and self-esteem training can help children with disabilities or rare diseases participate more fully in society. While it may be easy for these children to become marginalized and somewhat trapped, performing arts and self-esteem training can help them step outside of their niche. As they grow their confidence, they will find it easier to participate more fully and increase their quality of life in the long term.

Benefitting All of Society

Mental health concerns affect all age groups. However, mental health challenges in children and young people can be particularly detrimental as they may predispose the person to a lifetime of mental illness or mental health concerns.

Using performing arts as a path towards improved self-confidence and mental health not only helps those affected by mental health challenges. Their changed mindset can make a big difference for entire families and our society as a whole. As the pandemic continues to recede, we all stand to benefit from a generation of healthier, happier, more confident young people.

About the Author

Jessica WongJessica Wong

Jessica Wong is a digital expert and executive with over 20 years of success helping corporations and startups achieve digital transformation and develop robust data-centric digital campaigns.

As a digital expert, Jessica was invited to publish thought leadership articles on Forbes as an official member of the Forbes Communications Council. She also provides business advice to millions of readers. She was named the Most Influential CEO by CEO Monthly magazine.

The Women in IT Awards have named Jessica a finalist for the Digital Leader of the Year. MARsum USA has recognized her as one of the Top 100 Marketing & Advertising Leaders. In recognition of her work with Valux Digital, The Female CEO of the Year Awards recognized her as the Best Digital Marketing & Public Relations Agency CEO. The Global100 Awards have also named Jessica CEO of the Year.

Through her extensive digital experience in pharmaceutical, healthcare and biotechnological, Jessica has been named as the authorized digital transformation advisor for the Rare Advocacy Movement (RAM), the first community-based decentralized autonomous organization dedicated to the best interests of people diagnosed with life altering rare diseases and their families.

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