Cherrial Odell, a mere 13 years old, had already attempted suicide, a drastic action caused by her tumultuous upbringing in Las Vegas where her parents struggled with addiction and their own mental health issues. Her depression and anxiety were left unchecked without any guidance on managing these intense emotions. Odell’s first suicide attempt involved taking a multitude of pills with the intention of never waking up. However, her assumption that an overdose would result in eternal slumber was quickly disproven as she awoke to her disappointment. She attempted to end her life once again several months later, but this time her parents were informed that she would not survive the night as she was in respiratory failure. Miraculously, she pulled through.
Following these traumatic events, Odell enrolled in a program at Inspiring Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Jewel. The program’s mission was to transform the lives of at-risk youth in Las Vegas by adopting a holistic approach to physical, emotional, and mental health. Jewel and Ryan Wolfington, co-founders of the program, became close personal mentors to Odell, introducing her to mindfulness, meditation, and various wellness practices. They provided her with a safe environment to focus on her personal healing and growth, and to learn how to manage her emotions and relationships with herself and her family.
Odell learned practical tools to take control of her mental health through the Foundation’s program, including mindfulness practices, meditation, journaling, yoga, and proper sleep and nutrition. She was able to observe her thoughts and feelings and recognize that they did not define her as a person. Rather, she could choose how to respond to them.
As Odell progressed through the program, she started counseling her peers while working on her own self-healing. She continued with the Foundation throughout high school and interned with the program for two gap years. She was accepted to Stanford University, where she created a college club called Wellness Buddies, transforming the program she learned from the Foundation into a peer-led curriculum. Odell has been doing a lot of mental health work at Stanford with all the practices she learned through the program.
Jewel, who was once homeless herself as a teen and lived in her car after escaping a rough home life, recognizes the importance of spreading this knowledge and awareness to help young people in similar situations.