HOT is Going to America

A person in a park

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Guess what? HOT is going to America! I applied for a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship and couldn’t believe that I got it.  Just goes to show – it’s always worth trying for things!

Here’s a picture of me looking at a statue of Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill was the prime minister of Britain in the 1940s and 50s and led the country to win the 2nd world war.

He suffered from depression so he understood something about mental health. He talked about his depression quite openly which was unusual at that time. It can be really difficult to talk about our feelings sometimes. 

It can be hard to even know what we feel!  Our feelings can be confusing and we quite often feel more than one thing at once – so we feel angry but underneath we feel scared or sad.

Sometimes our feelings are too painful to think or talk about and we just try to ignore them or push them away.  Sometimes they come bursting out when we don’t expect it and we can upset other people or wish we’d kept it private.  If you feel under pressure it’s always good to talk to someone you trust, you can always speak to someone in our Drop-ins, or you can email us at [email protected] You don’t have to suffer alone!

When Winston Churchill died he left money in a fund to help people travel. He thought it is important to travel to learn more about mental health and other issues.  He once said, “travel to learn – return to inspire”.

I got money to go to the USA to visit some of the Child Trauma Academy sites where young people who have experienced trauma live and go to school. I hope that I will learn about what works for young people and how we can use what I learn to help HOT be even better.

Young people have been asking questions – I will take the questions with me and ask young people in the USA what they think.

They might have questions for young people in Edinburgh.  Young people connected together across the sea :).  If you have a question you’d like me to ask in America just contact HOT.  Especially questions linked to sexual or emotional health.

So, I’ve been getting ready to go on the trip. 

It will be exciting travelling on my own and meeting new people.  I felt a little bit nervous and started to have lots of worries – what if I get lost?  What if I make a mistake?  What if the people there don’t like me?  I used an app I have on my phone to do some meditation – it’s called CALM and it’s free and easy to use. 

What if I get lost?

This helped me think differently when I worried. First I was able to notice my thinking.  Then I was able to change it a bit. So, when I thought ‘what if I get lost?’, I came up with some solutions – like using Google maps, or asking someone. It really helped. 

I think if I’d worried too much I might have got scared and changed my mind about going on the trip – but it would be terrible to miss such a great opportunity because of worrying.  There are lots of different apps – if you have a smartphone you could have a look.

Here is map of where I’m going to go in the USA – first to Milwaukee in Wisconsin, then to Iowa, then to Denver in Colorado and then to Los Lunos in New Mexico.

A close up of a map

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I’ll be posting and tweeting and writing a blog to share all of my adventures.  I’ve looked online at the places and I’ve emailed some of the workers in the places I’ll visit. All the places look very different – some are in big towns and some are near the desert.

I go to a karate class here in Edinburgh and our teacher (Sensei) often talks about how it’s good to be flexible so that you can adapt to different situations. I think it will help me when I have to get used to different places.

I’m really going to miss my lovely colleagues at the HOT team but we’ve made a map and put it up so that everyone can follow where I am. I’ll take lots of photos and I’ve bought a notebook so I can write things down so I don’t forget.  I’m also going to take a wee mascot with me – here’s a photo of it…

A picture containing indoor, computer, table, desk

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I get my flight out to Chicago next Friday and I’ve got lots of things to do before I go.  I wrote a list and that’s helping me remember everything.  I’ll let you know when I’m on my way and I hope you’ll follow my trip on our website 

Niki P