Cherie Aminashaun
Cherie Aminashaun shows her books at Evanston Made's Holiday Market. (Photo provided)

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Cherie Animashaun, a junior at Niles West High School, has dedicated her adolescence toward helping youth and empowering women.

Animashaun, a 17-year-old former Evanston resident who recently moved to Skokie, has always had a passion for teaching and mental health awareness, expressed through her after-school tutoring, volunteering with local youth and now providing mental health resources.

“I know a lot of people my age have struggled with their mental health, so I am always trying to work on that,” she said. “Any project I can do that spreads awareness or brings a strategy, I want to do it.”

After an internship this summer at Kan-Win, an organization working to eradicate gender-based violence, especially for women and children in Asian American communities, Animashaun decided she wanted to do work in her own community to support young women, so she started Her Rising Initiative, a nonprofit organization that delivers resources to an orphanage in Nigeria and partners with programs in Evanston and Chicago to elevate students, female athletes and immigrants.

Journaling and writing have always been a big part of Animashaun’s life, and her idea was that it could also help other young women to have a space where they could be guided to share their thoughts and feel supported – the premise of her Compass books.

Animashaun sells two versions of the books – an adult edition and a teen edition – with all proceeds dedicated to her nonprofit, which is not registered with the IRS, so purchases are not tax-deductible. Both books have built-in planners, but the adult edition has a budget tracker, grocery list and focuses more on careers, yet still provides activities such as coloring pages.

The teen edition is more interactive, with much of the same content but focusing on “tween issues.” Animashaun writes in the description on Her Rising Initiative’s website, “At one point, I got tired of seeing adults making content for teens that didn’t truly represent or interest us. The following book is something I wish I had a few years ago, so I’m glad it’s in your hands now.”

Animashaun has partnered with Girls Play Sports where she is a youth coach and board member. The group empowers young women in Evanston through sports, encourages them so they don’t stop playing and recruits young female athletes like Animashaun as leaders.

At events where Girls Play Sports is selling the books, it receives 50% of the profits. She also partnered with Little Saints Orphanage in Nigeria; Animashaun will use the proceeds to buy resources like menstrual products and food to send over to help those in need.

She will be selling her books at Evanston Made’s holiday market, and they are available on its e-store as well as Amazon.

“I’ve undergone quite a lot of personal transformations in my pretty short lifetime,” Animashaun said. “From the girl who would throw her thoughts aside and constantly let people walk over her to a young woman working hard to get her beliefs and goals across. My wish for this initiative is to fund and create more resources for the girls around me, as well as the girls across horizons.”

Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at sam@evanstonroundtable.com and...

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