Milan Waller, 14, Nurtures Mental Health On The Golf Course In ‘Black Girl Joy Challenge’ Presented By Meg Thee Stallion, Southern Black Girls

At just 14 years old, Milan Waller emerged as a lighthouse of empowerment in the Southern United States, championing the spirit of joy and mental wellness as part of the Black Girl Joy Challenge. 

Organized by the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium (Southern Black Girls) and the Pete and Thomas Foundation, in collaboration with Grammy award-winning artist Megan Thee Stallion, this initiative aimed to celebrate the importance of joy in fostering mental health among young Black girls, gender-expansive youth, and young women aged 12-24 across the region. Nike also teamed up to support the transformative initiative as well. 

The challenge was open to residents across thirteen states located in the southern region, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, East Texas, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia. 

Furthermore, the challenge sought out applicants with creative and compelling ideas to spread joy and positivity within their communities. 

Milan Waller, hailing from Georgia, seized this opportunity to make a meaningful impact by hosting the “Winning When You Play Golf: How to Overcome Overthinking & Performance Anxiety When Golfing” half-day golf summit.

Waller’s journey to the Black Girl Joy Challenge was deeply personal. Having navigated the anxiety and uncertainty of nearly losing her mother to COVID-19, she found solace and strength on the golf course. 

“It taught me that I can’t just shove things down because eventually they’ll build back up. It was kind of a struggle at school because I was kind of snapping at people, I was just upset, and I didn’t know any way to release it,” Waller said. 

Motivated to share her story and help others overcome similar challenges, Waller curated an event that combined physical wellness with resilience-building techniques.

“I really wanted to talk about some of the health stressors in golf because it involves walking like 3 to 5 miles in heat, so staying hydrated. We did a stretch clinic, something for imposter syndrome including saying affirmations like ‘Who I am?,’ ‘I am beautiful,’ ‘I can play golf’ and ‘I am a winner,” Waller said.  “We did deep breathing, meditation and some techniques that could help calm nerves. And there’s some insights to preparing some snacks and supporting our wellness while playing golf.”

Waller’s holistic approach to addressing mental health resonated deeply with participants, fostering a sense of community and empowerment. Through her leadership and creativity, she exemplifies the spirit of the Black Girl Joy Challenge, inspiring others to embrace joy as a catalyst for mental well-being and self-discovery.

Furthermore, as one of the 100 grantees selected from thousands of applicants, Milan Waller’s contributions to the Black Girl Joy Challenge serve as a testament to continue cultivating our young Black girls to effect positive change in our communities. 

“I didn’t even know I won. To be honest, I was in class, and my mom kept calling me,” Waller  said. “I got on the phone and she’s screaming on the line, you did it! you did it!”

She added: “I had this image in my mind of what I want it to look like. But only in doing so did I realize how much of a big deal this actually was. Then seeing all these smiles on young Black girls faces. Now I want to start a foundation.” 

Her dedication to promoting mental wellness through golf not only enriches lives but also highlights the importance of prioritizing joy. 

Milan Waller’s unwavering commitment to spreading joy and resilience in her community serves as a powerful reminder that, regardless of age, each of us has the capacity to inspire change and make a difference in the lives of others. 

“I want us all to rise to the top. We all have these capabilities in ourselves, we just have to be the ones to prove it. But sometimes there might be someone who might need a little bit of help,” Waller said. 

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