Tennis star Serena Williams to host awards ceremony honoring ‘mental health heroes’

WASHINGTON – Serena Williams, one of the world’s best tennis players, has been supporting the MENTOR Initiative, an organization dedicated to helping “children from low-income backgrounds and those who have experienced mental illness,” since 2015. In honor of this year’s World Mental Health Day, the tennis star is co-producing an event honoring volunteers who fight mental illness.

The 5th Annual MENTOR Awards will be held on Tuesday, April 25, at Carnegie Mellon University’s Arnold Palmer Auditorium, and Williams is set to announce a new donation of $50,000 to the organization.

“The focus of the MENTOR Initiative is promoting education and conversation around mental health issues to help people feel valued and respected in their communities,” said Williams in a news release. “Our involvement in the program is all about helping raise awareness and educating the world about the importance of teaching children how to recognize emotional and mental health and to open up about the same so that people can be more aware of what happens to those who are struggling.”

The MENTOR Initiative has helped more than 5,500 children and educators across the country, providing group and one-on-one coaching to a broad range of students — from those diagnosed with health problems to those facing difficult circumstances, according to the release. In the release, Williams explains the impact MENTOR’s work is having for families and educators alike.

“We see the positive effects the program has on the children by the community’s willingness to support and teach them how to grow into resilient adults,” she said. “This I know first-hand, as when I visit schools and hear their great success stories.”

Mentors are nominated by their colleagues at school, their medical backgrounds, and through independent referrals. MENTOR expects at least 100 to be nominated for the event. The nominations will be reviewed by a team of mentors to ensure that those recognized are supported by fellow educators.

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