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Way to Go!: Arianna Lekhraj of Hempstead

A Hempstead student is striving to raise awareness about support for those with mental illness — one T-shirt sale at a time.

Arianna Lekhraj, 14, a freshman at Sacred Heart Academy who formerly attended Elmont Memorial High School, has raised about $600 through the sale of original T-shirts to benefit NAMI Queens/Nassau, a nonprofit group dedicated to building better lives for people affected by mental illness. The group’s name stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The T-shirt design has a semicolon and other graphics over a watercolor background on the front, and the inscription “#yourstoryisntover” on the back. In the context of mental health, the semicolon represents people’s collective efforts to promote suicide prevention.

“I was inspired by the fact that mental illness is such a prevalent epidemic that isn’t talked about enough, especially in my own generation,” Lekhraj said. “Just because it’s not physical and can’t be seen doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

The fundraiser stemmed from a class assignment last spring when Lekhraj was attending Elmont Memorial High. She created the design on an iPad with two friends, Pia Marquez and Chelsea Edouard, and ordered the shirts through the online retail company CustomInk. She sold the shirts for $20 each to classmates, teachers and parents.

At Elmont, Lekhraj played violin and was in the newspaper club and distinguished science research program. She also earned high honors at the 2017 Long Island Science Congress. She dances at Arya Dance Academy in New Hyde Park.

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