Girl Scout Gold Award Winner Receives MiraVista adMIRAtion Award

HOLYOKE — Western Mass. college student Isabella “Izy” Hess was honored on Aug. 15 by MiraVista Behavioral Health Center with its You-Have-Our AdMIRAtion Award for her work educating young children and their caregivers about the importance of mental health.

The 19-year-old sophomore is author of When I’m Worried, a project influenced by her own experience with anxiety and emotional wellness and one she undertook to be among the 2023 Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts Gold Award Girl Scouts. The award is Girl Scouting’s highest, and Hess devoted more than 180 hours to the picture-book project, as well as reading and discussing it with youth and their parents.

“Rates of anxiety and depression have increased in recent years in children ages 3 to 17, so educating young people on how to manage their emotions and parents to get help for them when needed is essential and is exactly what Izy’s book does,” said Kimberley Lee, chief of Creative Strategy and Development at MiraVista. “The fact that she is writing as a young adult from her own positive, therapeutic experience adds further validity to her message and is one that coincides with MiraVista’s mission.

“MiraVista offers individualized treatment to adolescents as well as adults, knowing that such intervention supports better outcomes for those challenged by mental-health conditions,” Lee continued. “We are proud to honor Izy and her educational work with MiraVista’s AdMIRAtion Award. The award recognizes community members for what they do to engage and improve the lives of others, and Izy’s book project, informed by her own mental-health experience, is aimed at helping youth stay emotionally healthy with the support of the adults in their lives.”

Hess called the AdMIRAtion Award an “unexpected” honor. She describes herself as “someone who has always had anxiety” that restricted her social and emotional development until she began talk therapy at age 9. Her picture-book story, aimed at those in elementary school and younger, with illustrations by high-school friend and artist Allison Hoffman, highlights three different characters, Jacob, May, and Lily, from different family backgrounds, and how they deal with stressors Hess calls “super common” in this age group.

“My hope is for young people to learn from the book that there are things they can do to make themselves feel better about the emotions they are having and for parents to see how very little kids can experience anxiety even around things they don’t need to worry about, but that these feelings are still real and should be treated as such,” Hess said. “The young need to be taught skills so that their fears and worries don’t hold them back, such as in making friends and participating in activities.”

In addition the adMIRAtion award, MiraVista donated 20 copies of Hess’ book for distribution to youth and children-serving organizations. When I’m Worried is available on Amazon by clicking here.