18-year-old Kristin got to join the model on set thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation.
You may have heard all about the great work that the Make A Wish Foundation does: the non-profit organization grants “wishes” to kids and teens who are going through serious and life-threatening medical conditions. A lot of your favorite celebrities have gotten in on the action too, meeting their fans and working to make those wishes come true to make treatment a little bit easier. Well, you also may know that body-postive model Iskra Lawrence has been a longtime part of Aerie’s inspirational, photoshop-free #AerieReal campaign: and she just surprised a teen on set of her latest photo shoot!
18-year-old Kristin Wong wanted to join the #AerieReal campaign as part of her own wish. Even though she’s going through a difficult illness herself, she wanted to use this opportunity to give back to others and spread the positivity.
“I think I was able to use my Make-A-Wish in a way that most Wish Kids aren’t able to because I’m a lot older than most of them. The demographic of Make-A-Wish Kids are usually much younger, hence why most of the wishes are to go to Disney World or on a trip to a different country,” Kristin shared in an Aerie interview. “However, I recognized the significance of how my wish could provide me with a once in a lifetime opportunity and because of that, I wanted to do something that money truly couldn’t buy. I also wanted to do something that wouldn’t only make me happy and help me grow, but help the greater community as well. I remembered just a few months ago when YouthLine, the teen to teen suicide/ crisis hotline I volunteer at, talked about just how many people reach out to YouthLine. The teens that contact YouthLine call or text in because they feel they have no one else to talk to or feel that no one else will understand what they’re going through. In comparison to the 1000 contacts we had back in 2013, last year we had over 12000, which just goes to show how many teens have needed and still need this resource for emotional support and help with mental health.”
When Kristin joined Aerie on set to take part in their new photo shoot, she was surprised by Iskra, who uses her impressive social media following to promote causes she cares about, especially mental health and eating disorder awareness. The pair got along quickly, and it’s likely because they share many of these passions in common!
“I chose Aerie because I knew they were national partners with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), and eating disorders are a type of mental illness and something we deal with all the time on YouthLine. My wish was to use my wish to promote YouthLine to more teens across the nation, and I thought that because they already supported NEDA, there’d be no better company to better spread the word about YouthLine than Aerie,” Kristin added. “Furthermore, YouthLine and Aerie have a shared demographic and ultimately spread the same message: learn to love and take care of yourself. I can’t think of a better way to have used my wish, and I truly hope that more teens will learn about YouthLine through Aerie and call in for support.”
It’s clear that Kristin is already an amazing role model just by being herself. But lending her voice to this major campaign just means more people get to hear her incredible story.
“I hope that I appear as a role model to others through my perseverance. When I first had cancer, the doctors told me that most kids take an extra year off of school and have to graduate a year late because it’s nearly impossible to stay on top of school work, especially for high school students,” she explained. “However, in spite of doing chemo and facing all of the side effects, I still worked hard to finish all of my work in time to graduate with the Class of 2018. During my time in treatment, I also continued to go to YouthLine as often as possible because when you have something that you’re genuinely passionate about, there really is nothing that can prevent you from doing it.”
Kristin also has some great advice for those of us out there who want to help make a big different, starting with the smallest of efforts.
“Passions and perseverance aside, I think all it takes to be a good role model is to remember that everyone is human– you need to treat everyone in the same way you would want to be treated,” Kristin shares. “I try my best to not to exclude anyone, and I always find ways to show others that I care and that I’m thinking of them. I emphasize how important it is to take care of yourself and not be ashamed of who you are. I hope people perceive me as altruistic, ambitious, and vigilant because I consciously make all of my decisions so that they can inspire someone else to do something similar and treat others the same way. I want to be a part of the origin for a young mind to begin the process of loving themselves, allowing them to be unafraid to accept who they truly are, and letting it shine to the rest of world.”
What a beautiful message!
You can check out Iskra and Kristin’s amazing behind-the-scenes set video below:
Written by Kristine Hope Kowalski