16-year-old Anh Ngo says when her shyness began to affect her academics and resulted in missed opportunities, she shifted her mindset to focus on personal growth. Feeling static while at home when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, the high school junior decided she probably wasn’t alone, and dedicated her service to planting the seeds of growth for others.
Founding MindsetSeed in May 2020, Anh is promoting a growth mindset for middle school and high school students to enrich mental health. Globally, about half of all mental health conditions start by age 14, but most remain undetected and untreated, a statistic Anh is working to change as she empowers adolescents and teens to build self-confidence. Offering free art and yoga sessions and resources relating to mental health and productivity, the Rancho Palos Verdes, California teen has connected with more than 10,000 youth in the United States and internationally as she fosters kindness and the power of growth across the globe.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I grew up in Saigon, Vietnam, and my circumstances were somewhat more fortunate in a country not as fortunate. I always knew I had to reach out to help others, and not remain sheltered. I faced my weaknesses in my personal journey, and through service, wanted to help others to have a growth mindset, and not inhibit themselves for so long like I did.
Describe your volunteerism with MindsetSeed.
As founder and CEO of MindsetSeed, which is student-run, I oversee the more than 100 volunteers we have around the world, including our Neuroplasticity Research team that is examining the scientific background of a growth mindset to develop curriculum and better promote awareness. Empowering students to be more positive and facilitate growth, MindsetSeed produces free resources like weekly blogs, our magazine, “Effort,” and we also fundraise to support the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as it’s been shown that individuals with diabetes thrive using a growth mindset. We’ve connected with individuals from more than 50 countries around the world including Switzerland, Korea and Vietnam.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
We offer free art and yoga sessions to enrich mental health, and through one of our art mindfulness sessions, I met with a girl who was having difficulty adapting to new environments in her high school. I saw myself in her, because I also had a difficult time adapting to a bigger school. We connected over drawing our thoughts, and that is when I saw how small adjustments can make a huge impact on how you feel. I felt really happy to be able to make that connection, because in a way, I was going back to my past self and saying it was ok, that I would make it through the tough times.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
Through connecting with others and giving back, you develop a better understanding of who you are. Volunteering is a way to grow because service is not all about giving back, but also giving to yourself. You get a sense of joy helping others.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Put yourself out there and get started helping others. It’s always really scary to start something new and step out of your comfort zone, but once you get started, those fears will fade.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
How can readers help?
Please visit our website for more information about our programs and how you can give back.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Anh Ngo? Find local volunteer opportunities.