Article written by Jack Strider, a third-year participant who plays for Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
About two years ago, I was in Boston studying mechanical engineering at a small tech school. I hated everything I was doing with my life. Boston was an angry city that I didn't vibe with, my major was difficult and it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. Not to mention the oppressive amount of work it came with, and on top of all of that my college was horrible at dealing with mental health issues. I ended up slipping into a pretty deep depression.
Unfortunately, it didn't get magically better once I started going to counseling like everyone hopes. I would spend days in bed, barely eating anything and completely drained of energy. The only thing that could get me to smile, even though that was the last thing I wanted to do, were YouTubers and Twitch streamers.
Once I finally started to get footing on my depression, I realized what a massive help watching the content creators were to me. In the same way they helped me, I want to help others. I was already doing YouTube videos at the time, but I didn't like how I had no way of instantly communicating with my audience. It felt very one-sided. I started my Twitch channel with the goal of creating a positive community based on supporting those in a dark place or suffering from mental health issues.
I know there are so many people in the world going through exactly what I did or worse and I want to do everything in my power to help them. If that means being live and a goofball just to put a smile on their face, then so be it. I hope that by spreading my story I can not only spread awareness for these issues, but also let them know they aren't alone, that they have a home in my community with people who understand what they are going through. I want them to know that people are here to listen.
I knew I couldn't stop there, I had seen people streaming for charity as well and knew that was perfect for my stream as well. I can help people in my community while raising money for children in need. My first year with Extra Life I was able to raise over $1,000 and was so incredibly proud of my community. My goal is to raise another $1k in 2018 and every year from that point on.