Cape Town – On Thursday, to celebrate World Mental Health Day, Prince Harry stopped at St Ann's Nottingham, where he met with youth doing their bit to shed light on the cause within their communities.
He saw the work of inspiring individuals encouraging self-expression through music at the Community Recording Studio, met Barney, the community's precious therapy dog who supports students who don't feel comfortable reading by helping them garner their self-confidence, and on his way out of Nottingham Academy was stopped by Aleyna Genc, who you may not know is pals – pen pals – with none other than Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex.
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Today, on World Mental Health Day, The Duke of Sussex returned to St Ann’s, Nottingham, to reunite with members of two community youth initiatives he’s been supporting for many years - EPIC Partners mentoring at Nottingham Academy and Community Recording Studio (CRS). At Nottingham Academy, HRH spoke with several of the youth he’s met on previous visits who are now mentoring younger students to ensure they’re managing their mental health both at school and at home. The Duke took part in the school assembly, where they talked about managing stress at every level and he shared his own thoughts on the importance of good mental health. There was also a fun visit with a therapy dog who supports students who feel reluctant to read, and allows them to garner more self confidence. The visit ended at the Community Recording Studio (CRS) in St Ann’s, a youth organisation that teaches video and music skills, allowing a creative outlet for self expression. The members recently created a Hip Hopera titled ‘Mental’ – a musical that explores mental illness through drama, spoken word and song. Overall a very special day celebrating community and seeing how we can all play a part in supporting each other’s wellbeing and mental health. #WMHD Photo©?PA Images
According to Nottingham Post, the 14-year-old has been battling a brain tumour, so when she saw Harry, she gave him a plush dog. The Pets as Therapy teddies are given to children in the hospital or those with mental health issues, People explains.
"They give them a little dog to play with and it kind of releases stress," Aleyna said.
When she handed Harry the dog, Aleyna said, "He said thank you and that he loved it." And although the toy was actually for the littlest royal, Aleyna continued, "He said he would love it because he hasn't been able to sleep because of Archie for the past few days."
His Royal Highness came with a gift of his own though. When he pulled Aleyna aside to listen to a special message recorded for her by Meghan, she couldn't quite contain her excitement.
(A PRINCE AND A PEN PAL: Prince Harry and Aleyna shared a hug after he played Duchess Meghan's voice note for her. Photo: Getty Images.)
"Wow. Just wow," she said. "I have been sending Meghan letters for around two years now, and she sent me a voice note which I got to listen to on Harry's phone. She basically wished me well," Aleyna told reporters.
"I've been lettering with Meghan for around two years now," Aleyna explained. "I just sent her a letter because she made a speech, and that was the one that really inspired me, her UN women's speech. I just wrote to her to say how much it inspired me, and we have been lettering ever since."
The speech Aleyna was talking about, of course, was one she gave in 2017 when she explained that when she was younger – 11 years old, to be exact – she saw a commercial for a dishwashing liquid.
"Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans," she heard.
Long story short, she wrote a few letters – one to the company, another to Hilary Clinton (she needed to get everyone on board) - and not too long after they changed the ad.
"People all over America," our now fighting greasy pots and pans.