We are living in different times and places. So much has changed in the last five years that we must rethink raising our children, what we teach them, and how we can help others.  It is very difficult to get help in a major way from one person, but we found that help in Shawanna E. Vaughn of Silent Cry Inc. She responded to our cry for help in ways we have never seen before. There was no discussion. She recognized the need for a mental health and wellness platform in our school and made it happen. Our organization, Silent Cry Inc., sponsored a day of speakers, gifts, food and much more. Silent Cry Inc. paid travel expenses for all speakers and made a major investment a day that made a dramatic impact on our children.

Hundreds of accidents, homicides, and suicide are the leading causes of death by teenagers. Accidents whether it is accidental shootings, drug overdoses, or death by homicide are costing us too many young people. Teen years that should be the absolute best time of a young person’s life continue to trend towards the worst times they will ever know – if they survive.

Mental health should be our primary focus because it adversely affects the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) populations. Even students recognize the prejudice in services rendered in our communities and schools.

Shawanna Vaughn, founder of Silent Cry Inc. (left), with Leslie Robinson, founder of Trance4mation Games (right); Shirletha Gaskins, founder of Just Us Now, is in the background (C) Silent Cry Inc.

Silent Cry Brings Mental Health Awareness To Bradford Academy High School

In response to a growing need, student Michaela and others at Bradford Academy High School in Southfield, Michigan requested an event to bring awareness to the plight of young people's mental health. In addition, Covid has exacerbated the social-emotional needs of young people everywhere and at a minimum, we need to discuss it.

Silent Cry Inc. has the desire to adopt schools and create a platform for students to have an open dialogue concerning mental health awareness.  Currently, our schools lack social services and sufficient emotional support for the students. We need counselors, therapists, and peer specialists within school districts to hone in on the growing need for intervention and increased staffing.

Bradford Academy High School students listen to discussions on mental health (C) Silent Cry Inc.

Michigan Statistics On Mental Health

  • 119,000 Michigan teens age 12–17 have depression.
  • 5.8% of people in the state are uninsured.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6–17 experience a mental health disorder each year.

The data alone should be a wake-up call to the Michigan Department of Education and Mental Health Services.

Silent Cry Founder Shawanna Vaughn On Mental Health Education

Shawanna Vaughn of Silent Cry Inc. says, “I’m seeking Charter schools to reevaluate their budgets in hopes of finding funds for the additional help that is needed.  There is nothing more important than the young people we serve and the lives we may save. Let us answer these silent cries by reallocating and restructuring budget allowances so that programs may reach the school system.

I implore parents, community legislators and activists to get involved in the education system so we can make it better.”

The Bradford Academy Investment Day Mental Health and Wellness Fair created awareness and let students know they are being heard.

Shawanna Vaughn and Wendell Brown, founder of the Brown Elite Youth Elevation Foundation (C) Silent Cry Inc.

Who Spoke At Bradford Academy's Investment Day Mental Health And Wellness Fair?

Speakers were phenomenal and very personal in their presentations.

Damian Calvert, an activist from Cleveland, Ohio who facilitates reentry programs on behalf of various agencies in the state, discussed being your best self and turning your story into an asset for success.

Representative Jewell Jones was on hand to lend support with proclamations, citations, and speakers for young men. His commitment and passion for mental health have been appreciated by the State of Michigan.

Wendell Brown is a football coach at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Detroit. Once a student at the same school, and a noted college and Canadian Football League player, Brown survived wrongful incarceration in China and became an advocate for health, education and community empowerment. His nonprofit, the Brown Elite Youth Elevation Foundation, serves youth by advocating for the needs of their communities; Brown is passionate and dedicated to his work.

Wendell Brown, left, and Damian Calvert, right, speak at the Bradford Academy Mental Health and Wellness Fair (C) Silent Cry Inc.

Leslie Robinson is a New York-based therapist and clinical social worker who has numerous board games to her credit, through her company Trance4mation Games. As founder and CEO, Robinson leads the business in creating board games that directly address issues like trauma, racial divisions, and social isolation to encourage healing in people’s lives and relationships. With the students she played the game of “Keep It Real.” It allows for open dialogue and emotional support.

Just Us Now, a human rights nonprofit that advocates for the citizens of Michigan, was represented by founder Shirletha Gaskins.

James “JaMo” Thomas, founder and CEO of Rising Sun Ink, is on the education council of Inkster, Michigan. Through various programs, he supports food distribution to the city’s homeless and impoverished populations, pioneers criminal justice reform (including end-of-sentencing advocacy for juveniles) and educates on mental health issues with a focus on young and adult men.

DayMond Johnson, a Morehouse College student who supports his peers in education and students to learn about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and a path forward.

Naquasia Pollard, Executive Director of the Brooklyn-based organization Pure Legacee, was a highlight by speaking with an auditorium full of young ladies and making a major impact. Pure Legacee works with women who have been directly and indirectly impacted by incarceration and the criminal justice system to create spaces for healing. Pollard has expanded the organization from Brooklyn to various places around the country and Silent Cry Inc. is fortunate to partner with her. The work that Ms. Pollard is offering to build leaders in young ladies is priceless.

Shawanna Vaughn stated, “My deepest appreciation to all presenters and to students who spoke up for their peers going through a silent cry.”

For more information about Silent Cry Inc. and how to get involved with community advocacy, visit silentcryinc.org.

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Shawanna Vaughn

Damian Calvert

Wendell Brown

Leslie Robinson

DayMond Johnson

Pure Legacee


Featured image: Shawanna Vaughn, founder of Silent Cry (center), with Michigan Representative Jewell Jones (right) and Bradford Academy High School administrators (C) Silent Cry Inc.