Three years ago, I decided to host an online class that would encourage students to “make things” over the summer. It was called, “Design a Theme Park,” and I invited some famous makers to help judge the different categories each week.
Joey Hudy was one of those makers. Well-known for the video of his appearance at the White House Science Fair with President Obama, Joey was an inspiration to many of my budding “makers-in-training.” I invited him to be a guest judge of the student-designed theme park rides. Joey’s mother kindly responded for the teenager that he would be happy to do it. I wish I had kept copies of his mother’s comments, because I remember that she was excited about any program that promoted maker-education and/or STEM, and her supportive words were very motivational.
Joey had a difficult time choosing a winner from my students’ projects. The day before he announced his decision, he posted this, “I’m sitting here getting to judge your awesome projects. I don’t really like picking winners, you are all winners. You all did exactly what I want kids to do..
Don’t be bored…make something!
Ok..the winners are..drum roll.”
Joey’s mantra of, “Don’t be bored…make something!” has lived on in my classroom since then. I have been following him on Twitter over the years, and often chant those same words to my own students – particularly right before they are about to leave school for long vacations. The enthusiasm of Joey (and his mom) have directly and indirectly affected my teaching style and educational priorities ever since the first time I viewed his marshmallow cannon demonstration.
Today, I saw a Tweet that announced sad news about Joey. He is now 20 years old, and was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. In this “GoFundMe” post, Joey’s sister makes an impassioned plea for help with the staggering medical costs facing his family as they navigate the difficulties of identifying the appropriate treatment and care.
This post struck a chord with me for many reasons. First of all, I benefited from the great kindness of Joey and his mother when they donated their time to my students as proponents of STEM and maker-education.
Secondly, I know, first-hand, the treacherous havoc that mental health issues can wreak on the sufferers and their families. Over 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and PTSD. This was not a surprise to me, as other family members had received similar diagnoses or exhibited symptoms that were never treated. Therefore, I have great sympathy and empathy for Joey and his family.
I write this post for two reasons: to ask you to consider donating to the Hudy family to help cover Joey’s enormous medical expenses, and to also ask you to consider what our country and/or world can do to educate people about how to better identify and aid the people who suffer from mental illness.
I wish the best to Joey, Elizabeth, and the rest of the Hudy family. Thank you for all of the contributions you have made so far to “making” this world a better place. It’s time for the world to help you now. With so many people behind you, I guarantee you will continue to be a positive force on this planet for many years to come.