By Stacie Ball
Six years ago, Amy Hanna sat at her kitchen table with two friends, $400 and a dream to build a stronger community by empowering teens. Little did she know that she was about to become a founder of the RespectTeam, a non-profit organization that would reach over 40,000 youth across more than 40 middle and high schools. The message is simple, “Respect Yourself, Respect Others, and Respect All,” but the meaning is paramount.
“We saw the need to help our teens see their value, see their lives as important, and see that others are also valuable even if they think differently, look differently or come from a different background than them,” Hanna explained. “We realized that even though our message was simple, if our youth could learn how to respect themselves and others, they would grow into adults who knew how to respect themselves and others, and that in turn, our community would be positively impacted.”
Another driving force for creating RespectTeam was Hanna’s own pain from her teenage years. Her feelings of loneliness and hopelessness from the past could have ruled her, but she chose to harness them and use them as a tool to connect with others and let them know they are not alone. Everyone’s life has value, and she is determined to share that message.
RespectTeam strives to educate students at no cost, empower their parents and teachers to reinforce the message of respect, and engage students with the community. They have given over $20,000 in scholarships, empowered 30 youth to share their story of strength in front of a live audience at TeenSpeak, connected more than 700 students to counseling resources, and impacted over 1,000 listeners through the RespectTeam Podcast for parents. Plans are in the works to expand the curriculum and share the healthy message of self-respect and respect others with colleges and universities in the fall.
Hanna’s work does not stop with RespectTeam. She is also the Chairperson of The Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Women’s Network.
“Our vision is to provide a space where ALL individuals and organizations are embraced and unified,” Hanna explained. “We believe that we ALL belong, and that together, we can make our community stronger.”
Hanna stressed how much of an honor it is to lead the committee, now with 100 members, and humbly named at least ten women whose tremendous support has made her leadership role possible.
Hanna has always been driven and says her “creative spirit does not allow me to sit idle.”
While earning her degree in Elementary Education at Ball State University, she met her husband, Jesse Hanna, and together they have two teenage daughters. She has been a Mary Kay Consultant for 16 years, a swim instructor for 26 years, a mentor for hundreds of teen girls and young women, and she owns and runs two online clothing businesses: @ClassySassyVintageThrift and @ClassySassyBoutiqueThrift.
In the future, Hanna hopes to see RespectTeam continue to grow. Learn more about Hannah’s story and the mission of RespectTeam by visiting respectteam.com.