Can You Hear Me? Interview

For those who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your organization?
My name’s Ashley, I’m the co-founder of Can You Hear Me? (CYHM?) We are a nonprofit organization that basically we have created a safe online space where teens and young adults can go on and share their stories without fear, without judgement. Nobody can comment on anything, so nobody can bully them. You can share in any format you want. It can be artwork, videos, audio, poetry, whatever your heart desires you can share in any format. We have partnered with musicians such as Patty Walters and From Ashes To New, to kind of get them to share their stories as well, which opens up that door for kids to feel comfortable sharing theirs and to not feel so alone.

Currently CYHM? is on the Van’s Warped Tour and is giving individuals that come out to your tent the opportunity to record and share their own stories. Why do you feel that this ability for teens and young adults to be heard is so important?
Honestly, I think that that’s the biggest problem these days is that kids are talking, teens are talking, you know we all are talking, just trying to live a good life and to be heard and you know it’s the people on the other end that aren’t listening and they don’t know how to listen. And so, for kids they know they can come and they can share and nobody is going to tell them that is wrong, no one’s going to say that what they feel is stupid or whatever it is, you know and for parents and for adults our there this is kind of like a slap in the face to them to wake up because we are all talking, maybe it’s not face to face, but you know we have texting and we have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, whatever it is, but people are talking and we need to be listening. So, being here on Van’s Warped Tour this is our demographic, these are our kids and they just want to be heard so we give them a place that they can be and they don’t have any fear of judgement.

What about your approach can be so beneficial for them to be heard and perhaps get the help that they may need?
How we do it is, we are not counselors by any means, we are just humans and people you know, just normal, I mean I worked at Starbucks for seven years, but I have a degree in music business, so in no way do I know anything about psychology. The way that we do it is you know sometimes you don’t want to talk to some like professional and sit on a couch and be asked constantly ‘how you are feeling’ and then to be told that that’s not the right thing to feel that way, like oh you need to deal with that differently, so our approach is like this is for you, by you and about you and you get to determine how you are heard and you know who you are talking to. So basically, what we do is give them that safe place and tell them that we are here and they seem to respond really well to it.

You also host the sober bar during the Warped barbecues, can you tell me a bit about that?
So what we have been doing, we haven’t had the opportunity to really do much because it has been so hot and gross, but we did do something over the Fourth of July for a bunch of people where we had lemonade and iced tea and just providing a sober option. It’s not necessarily like you don’t have to be in recovery or anything like that, but it is an option that is not alcoholic and I don’t drink or do anything, so it makes it so I can socialize too and we have a dry bus, so there’s no drinking or anything on it. But I think it is important, because out here there are a lot of people in recovery or don’t feel comfortable going to the parties because of the alcohol being consumed, so we wanted to do something you know and make is safe for everyone.

What are some ways for people looking to get involved with your organization to get involved?
Just going to our website we have all our social media on there. You can get involved by literally just sharing on social media, word of mouth is huge for us. We also have a teen rep program, which is basically a closed Facebook group where anyone can go on, mostly teens, but you can go on and spread the word about what we are doing and see what we are up to and get involved with any upcoming events. Also, it’s a peer to peer support group. Actually one of the kids from our teen rep program designed our lips tank top that we sell here from Scotland. So it’s really really cool, we give a lot of opportunities to them.

Thank you for doing this interview! Before we go, is there anything else you would like to say?
Stop by the tent, we are here all summer and we just want you to be heard and we will do anything possible to make that happen.


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