Sep 15, 2020
On today's episode, we meet Jalah Clayton, the President of The Black Light Foundation. The Foundation is a digitally-based, non-profit to raise awareness about mental health by educating, empowering, and enlightening Black and Caribbean communities. She founded this organization with her sister Mahogany and cousin Tristan to honor their mother and aunt, Claudia Clayton who was lost to suicide in May 2019. Claudia dealt with mental health challenges in her life but used her role to help others. She was vocal about her own struggles and what helped her manage them. The family wanted to find a way to uphold her legacy and continue the work that she was doing. Their ideas started off as a scholarship fund for someone seeking treatment but grew to what it is now with the help of the communities Claudia created. In July 2019, The Black Light Foundation was formed. With this platform, Jalah and her family members hope to raise awareness by having conversation and education around how to take care of mental health, how to support those with mental health challenges, eliminate the stigmas, and be a resource for diverse communities. Their programming has a physical activity component to navigate mental health as Claudia was a runner and cross fitter.
"To challenge ourselves to think differently about what mental health means to different communities especially minority communities and just considering the access that different communities have to mental health resources."
Jalah Clayton is based in Charlotte, NC and currently works as a Fitness Coach at Crossfit Vitality. She also works with companies to implement Employee and Worksite Wellness programs. Moving her body has been a constant in her life since being a dancer for 14 years, getting a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise and Sports Science, and now getting a Master's Degree in Public Health. Her focus with others is on nutrition, recovery, movement, and mindset. Mahogany Clayton lives in Miami, FL and works full-time in Marketing as well as managing those efforts for the foundation. Tristan Marrow is based in Portland, OR, works for Nike, and also supports contributes to the physical activity component for the organization.
The Foundation recently sponsored a "Miles for Mental Health" challenge through the Nike app where they raised $1,450 to donate between the groups, Therapy for Black Girls and Therapy for Black Men. The Black Light Foundation will be putting future efforts towards creating a scholarship for those seeking treatment.
"Knowing that you can use your physical health to navigate your mental health. Whether you are the type of person that needs that intense workout to just burn off some steam and help you decompress at the end of the day or if it's the person that likes yoga or walking, meditation, stretching. We really want to provide resources like that and explore those tools within the foundation."
The Black Light Foundation was founded by Jalah, Mahogany, and Tristan, but not without help they are grateful for from Alana V. Allen from Alana Knows Non-Profits, Kim Honeycutt from ICU Talks, and Vitality Fitness. They want to Heal Charlotte because they are all personally connected to Charlotte and grew up here. The advice they have for those seeking healing:
"Seeing all of what mom did and having that understanding of her story being her family on this side of it. It challenged us to ensure that while we are still here on Earth that we can work in the way that she did."
In Charlotte, the group is inspired by healers, Kim Honeycutt and Shamyra Parker who is also involved with ICU Talks, and is a self-care advocate as well as helps leaders with self-care. If you would like to support The Black Light Foundation as a volunteer or financially, click here.