Healthy minds, healthy children

Exonians tackle mental health care for refugee children, earning a first-place win at the UNH Social Venture Innovation Challenge in November. 

Genny Beckman Moriarty
November 29, 2017
Magisha Thohir, Menat Bahnasy, and Maya Kim after receiving their first place trophy.

Magisha Thohir, Menat Bahnasy, Maya Kim and Alex Gladu (not pictured) earned a first-place win for their Healthy Minds Healthy Children project at the New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge in November. 

Seniors Menat Bahnasy, Alex Gladu, Maya Kim and Magisha Thohir have come up with a creative solution to the problem of insufficient mental health care for young refugees settling in the U.S. — many of whom struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Their project, “Healthy Minds Healthy Children,” is designed to deliver low-cost, stigma-free art therapy and narrative exposure therapy through after-school programs in the public schools.

The young social entrepreneurs developed the concept while enrolled in the Academy’s Social Innovation course during fall term. For their efforts, they earned a first-place win in the high school track at the University of New Hampshire’s 2017 Social Venture Innovation Challenge in November.

“They did a fantastic job researching, questioning, interviewing and iterating during the design process, and their presentation was fabulous,” says Director of Service Learning Liz Reyes, who teaches the Social Innovation elective for seniors and served as faculty adviser to three Exeter teams at this year's competition.

The Social Venture Innovation Challenge invites UNH alumni and teams from schools and communities across New Hampshire to find creative, entrepreneurial solutions to pressing social or environmental issues of their choosing. First-place high school teams receive $5,000 in cash along with membership in relevant entrepreneurial organizations and a complimentary registration to the annual New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility conference.

Two other teams of Exeter seniors competed in November. The CharitaGuys, consisting of Aum Bhuva, Anzi DeBenedetto, Gregory Miller and Jackson Parrell, combined the idea of customer loyalty rewards with charitable giving, “turning a rewards-driven market into a socially-aware, sustainable haven.” Team Pik Up members Josh Anderson, Mikey Doyle, Mike Rounds and Tiago Schwartz designed an app to help kids organize their own local sporting events.

Learn more about their projects at the UNH Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise website.