A few years ago, my friends at LEGO — one of the world’s iconic youth brands — launched a terrific youth initiative called “Rebuild the World.” The focus of their campaign was to “celebrate children as the masters of creative problem solving and show what can be achieved when people work together to overcome differences or challenges.”
As a fan of the LEGO brand — and as someone who’s worked at the crossroads of youth policy, children’s media, trust and safety, education, and technology for nearly 20 years — I was very inspired by how LEGO positioned youth work as an opportunity to help children reimagine their world. Over the years, whenever I’ve started a new youth or kidtech project, I’ve often found myself reflecting on the “Rebuild the World” campaign as an aspirational North Star.
As the COVID pandemic rolled deeper into 2020, lasting far longer than anyone had anticipated, my focus shifted to trying to understand how kids, tweens, and teens were coping, or not, with the lockdowns, Zoom school, the loss of friends, school, and “normal life.” It quickly became apparent that the kids were not, in fact, alright.
Soon the news was filled with pediatric, adolescent medical, and behavioral health experts reporting on an unprecedented uptick in mental health issues among kids, tweens, and teens. It quickly became apparent that children were in crisis.
Even before the pandemic, youth were struggling with mental health issues stemming from the challenges of being a 21st Century teen. But the pandemic was a tsunami, and its impact is still flooding all facets of kidhood.
In early 2021, I was approached by a team of behavioral health experts who had seen in their professional circles a surge of kids, tweens, and teens flooding the system with a full range of mental and emotional health needs.
As they looked in the behavioral health system for their teens, they found it difficult to access resources or find digital behavioral health tools that resonated with their children.
It quickly became clear: It’s time to refashion behavioral health for tweens and teens. It’s time to leverage digital tools that are already a constant in their lives — digital media and mobile devices.
It’s time to provide teens with resources developed by mental health experts, provide them with real-time support, and with a behavioral health experience that will help them build mental strength, and reconstruct their world after a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
Today, I’m pleased to announce that I have been appointed as the Chief Youth Officer of BeMe Health — a mobile mental health platform — made for and #WithTeensInMind.
Our Number One Job: Protect Children
As Chief Youth Officer at BeMe, I will be leading a team that oversees everything from kids’ privacy, trust, and safety, youth cultural intelligence, managing the BeMe Teen Advisory Board and our community of kids, tweens, and teens. And oh, producing our podcast BeingMe, hosted by my colleague and our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Neha Chaudhary.
This role is a big responsibility, and I don’t take it lightly.
I will bring a lifetime of personal, academic, and professional experiences to the BeMe product team, with the sole focus on youth advocacy. First and foremost, my role is to make sure that everything we do at BeMe is done through the lens of child protection.
Every decision we make is centered on protecting teens. Our BeMe teams align BeMe with the privacy guidelines set forth by the Age Appropriate Design Code (AADC), a higher standard than current U.S. privacy law under COPPA. Our entire team has been building teen privacy into the platform from day one.
This role is an opportunity of a lifetime to join a company whose mission is to help a generation of kids gather the scattered bricks of their lives and help them reassemble their post-pandemic world with the life skills to build a healthier future. BeMe is social media that leaves teens feeling happier and better equipped to face the challenges ahead.
Let’s Do This
On the final day of our inaugural team meeting in September, I took an early morning walk around Denver. As I rounded a corner on my way back to the hotel, I abruptly found myself face to face with a giant neon quote from David Bowie. It seemed like a message from the universe, and that LEGO North Star, that I was on the right path at the right time with the right team.
And while I may not know exactly where this new journey will lead, I do know I have an incredible group of colleagues who already have my back.
Buckle up, BeMe team. This is our Rebuild the World moment. 🚀