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Monday, August 15, 2022

HBCU Graduates Establish Nonprofit Serving Baltimore Youth, Host Mental Wellness Workshops

Chazz Scott, Nikki Abraham, and Shayma Sulaiman are three Hampton University graduates who decided to invest in positive thinking; optimism; and empowering youth through mental wellness.

“In 2016, we started to realize the need as it relates to mental health, especially in underserved communities, particularly the African American demographic. But one of the things we wanted to do was to figure out ways to have interactive fun, and an informal space to discuss mental wellness strategies, all centered upon a newer science called positive psychology,” Scott said.

Scott, who is currently a Prince George’s County resident, grew up outside of the Ellicott City area, although his grandparents have Baltimore roots. Scott works for the government full-time. Positively Caviar, Inc. is his contribution to uplifting youth as the nonprofit’s Executive Director and Chief Creative Optimist, along with Abraham and Sulaiman. Abraham serves as Positively Caviar’s Chief Creative Marketing Officer. Sulaiman is the Chief Program Officer.

Positively Caviar, Inc.’s Executive Director mentioned that Martin Seligman is a positive psychologist who focused on qualities of individuals who are flourishing and possess well-rounded wellbeing.  Exercising, eating right and positive thinking could be examples of strategies individuals can use to accomplish this positive place, according to Scott.

“Positive psychology takes a new perspective at trying to combat the mental health stigmas that are in our community, so that’s what we do. We provide a space that helps youth build mental resilience to disrupt mental health stigmas, and introduce youth to a mindset of positive thinking and optimism,” Scott said.  “We provide preventative tools before adversity happens, so they know how to overcome stress and adversity before adversity happens.”

Positively Caviar, Inc. and Charm City Love, Inc. teamed up to provide activities for youth related to self-love and a growth mindset in 2017.
Photo courtesy of Positively Caviar, Inc.

Scott added that oftentimes there are not enough behavioral therapists, and guidance counselors, in underserved communities. As a result, youth who experience trauma and events such as drug and alcohol abuse or domestic abuse are left without enough vehicles to get through them. Within Positively Caviar, Inc., youth are given tools early to assist them with combating challenges more effectively. Nonprofit partners who are mental health organizations ensure that needs of youth are addressed with priority in Baltimore.

Reading a plethora of self-help books, understanding, positive psychology, and hearing about uprisings, protests, and episodes of police brutality sparked Scott’s interest in providing youth with tools that he wished he would’ve had when he was younger, especially growing up as a Black male.

Although he did not grow up in an underserved community, Scott and his cofounders have a passion to reach out to youth in Baltimore who are being reared in them. The pandemic led the trio to conduct virtual workshops. Before then, workshops had been held in the Cherry Hill community, in Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Baltimore area churches. Spreading positivity has been an intentional, connecting act that brought like-minded individuals together.

Abraham, who is a Brooklyn, New York resident, mentioned that after Scott started a blog about positivity, the Hampton University graduates decided to turn it into something bigger. They aspired to target youth, offer workshops, and spread positive thinking along with optimistic messages.

On August 20, 2022, Baltimore City youth from grades six to eight will have an opportunity to participate in an immersive mental health workshop hosted by Positively Caviar, Inc. at the UA House, located at 1100 E. Fayette St. in Baltimore from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Scott said that providing experiential tools for youth to feel empowered is the overall goal, while shedding a light on mental wellness.  Equipping them with actionable tools to improve their daily wellbeing will be accomplished through providing workshops centered around self-love; affirmations; growth mindset; and the importance of positive self-talk will be on the agenda. A special guest speaker will also participate in the event marking the return of the nonprofit’s in-person workshops, due to the pandemic.

“This is a back-to-school event, so at the end of the event, we’re going to be handing out backpacks full of items, stress balls, handouts that give an overview of some of the activities that we’ve talked about and some of the tools that they (youth) can use to increase their mental wellness as they go into the school year,” Scott said.

Abraham added that exercises will be included. A mindfulness and yoga instructor will also lead activities that will support youth to build tools for handling stress positively before school is back in session.

Registration is required to attend the event. Please visit https://positivelycaviar.com/flourish-grow to sign up for the mental wellness back-to-school workshop.

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