As part of our community outreach efforts at Valley Medical Center, we strive to build strong relationships with community partners and organizations. This past summer, our team developed a close relationship with the Gurudwara Singh Sabha temple down the road from our main hospital, partnering to provide health education to their community.
While planning the event, our community outreach team was in close contact with Mehr Grewal, a member of the temple. Mehr organizes the temple’s community outreach efforts, hosting virtual forums with expert panelists, planning health fairs for her community, and is the editor of a magazine she created and edits, Youth Aware. In addition to each of these immense responsibilities, which she executes with warmth and professionalism, Mehr is 13 years old and in the 8th grade.
Moved by her inspiring story, obvious passion for her community, and providing health education, we asked if she would be willing to tell us more about herself, what inspires her, and the magazine she co-founded.
How did you start Youth Aware?
When the pandemic started and the lockdown happened, I felt a kinship with my peers. Everyone like me was trapped and isolated. I wanted to create a platform for the youth to connect, exchange ideas and inspire each other. I combined my love of writing with my passion for outreach to make a difference through Youth Aware. My sister, Simar, and I co-founded the magazine together.
What made you want to start a magazine for young people?
The magazine was a way to connect young people around the world—to tell them “Hey, we are feeling what you are feeling, we are all in this together, no one is alone.” I wanted to use the power of the written word, powerful graphics and the voice of leaders around us to motivate young people to impact their communities in a positive way.
What topics are covered in Youth Aware?
Youth Aware is a magazine for youth around the world. In fact, we have subscribers in several different countries! We carefully write and choose content to make young people aware of what is happening around them, but also strive to inspire them by sharing life stories of amazing people who have made a difference. This is an opportunity for them to learn about leaders from different fields who have shared their journeys as well as their challenges.
Our magazine is a platform for youth to share their ideas and opinion about things that matter to them. We cover everything from STEM, to politics, to mental health and travel. We also interview leaders in the community who have made a difference and introduce their journey to our readers. Most of all, we offer space to young people around the world to share their ideas and writing.
How did your columnists join your magazine team?
Our columnists are around the world. Our first readers were our friends, and then it grew to friends of friends, and then their relatives. It continued to grow by word of mouth before finally making it to social media, where it spread to kids around the world.
What have you learned about being a magazine editor since the time you started it?
I have learned some valuable lessons. I’ve learned to be a leader, as well as to be a team player. My role has not only been to inspire other young people to write, but also to gently guide them through the writing process. Putting together the magazine has been a joy and a labor of love. It takes countless hours to make the graphics, choose the designs and plan the layout of each page. It’s caused me to realize that I am a bit of a perfectionist, as I carefully make sure each page is special and different every time.
What parts of producing this magazine are the most challenging and the most rewarding?
The most challenging, as well as rewarding, is the design and layout. Coming up with a theme for each issue of the magazine, deciding the relevance of the articles in relation to what is going on in the world right now, improvising quickly if things change (especially as things evolved quickly during the pandemic), making sense of the political climate and especially, keeping up with latest research.
The most rewarding has been choosing the design—which has always been the most appreciated aspect. If you notice, the front cover always has a deep meaning. It is very carefully selected and weaves through the entire content of the issue. I’ve also found the interviews with community leaders to be very rewarding.
What do you hope that readers take away by reading the articles and watching the interview videos?
I hope that readers will walk away thinking:
- Age is no bar to achievement.
- No one is too young to make a difference.
- Together, we can all make positive impacts in our community.
What are your personal goals after you complete your schooling?
After I complete my schooling, I hope to stay local and continue serving my community in the Pacific Northwest. I hope to have a career in medicine and/or public health and am particularly passionate about finding solutions to healthcare disparities.
How has your work creating and continuing to publish a magazine influenced those goals?
Through the magazine, we have been able to reach thousands of people around the world, raise awareness about important topics, and educate kids and families about latest research; especially surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.
Our work with ‘Worth a Shot’–has been a very successful public health effort. We have been able to help thousands of people get the COVID-19 vaccine by organizing multiple town halls webinars with experts, to raise awareness about COVID, the vaccine, and the latest research.
We also translated COVID vaccine information into 18 different languages and worked with our public health department, and hospitals like Valley Medical Center, to organize vaccination pop-ups. We hope to continue our outreach and public health efforts, including a focus on the importance of mental health.
What’s your favorite story you’ve covered and why?
My favorite story was in our December 2020 issue, where we highlighted 20 of the year’s most positive influencers. It was called, “20 of 2020.”
If you were to be able to interview anyone, who would that be, why that person and what would you ask them?
If I was able to interview anyone, it would be the scientist couple Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, who developed the Pfizer vaccine. I would ask them what advice they would give to scientists a hundred years in future who will be tackling a major pandemic.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I like to sketch, draw, and play tennis and badminton with my sister, Simar.