If you’ve been to Warped Tour this year, you may have noticed one of the newest additions to the sea of tents that populate the festival grounds at each city, Can You Hear Me? Inspired by family members who have grappled with suicide and addiction, co-founder Ashley Adler Coro and her mother tried to start support groups in her town and high school with little community backing. But they were determined to reach out to people who are struggling, so they turned to another resource: the internet. Teens have often found solace in outlets like Tumblr, other blogging platforms, and online forums, but are frequently exposed to even more bullying and judgment online.
CYHM? is an non-profit organization whose website is dedicated to allowing teens to express how they’re feeling without fear of that backlash, and have most recently taken their message on the road for the 2016 Vans Warped Tour. We spoke with Ashley before the Mansfield stop of the tour on July 13 to learn more about the organization and their plans for their summer on the road.
The Daily Slice: Can you introduce yourself with your name, your role at Can You Hear Me?, and your all-time favorite spot to grab a slice?
Ashley Adler Coro: Hello! My name is Ashley Adler Coro, I am the co-founder of Can You Hear Me?, and I think my all time favorite place to grab a slice of pizza is definitely Otto in Portland, Maine! They have some of the best toppings and the atmosphere is amazing!
TDS: For anyone who hasn’t heard of CYHM? before, can you describe your mission?
AAC: What CYHM? has done is create a safe online space where teens and young adults can share their stories without fear and without judgment in any format they want. There is no commenting allowed on the website so that leaves no room for bullies! Our mission is to give teens and young adults a voice.
TDS: What sparked the creation of CYHM? in the first place?
AAC: Twelve years ago we lost my cousin Thomas to suicide. He was this incredible artist and just an amazing person. He was only 18. Since then my mom and I have been trying to do something to help others who basically suffer in silence because they aren’t being listened to. After multiple attempts at trying to start some sort of suicide prevention program in my high school and our local area with very little support we kind of just stepped away from it for a while. Most recently my brother was in treatment for addiction out in California for the second time and he had graduated through the programs. [He] was feeling extremely homesick and continuously asked to come back home to Maine any time he would talk to my mom when she went out to visit him. This one particular time they were having dinner and afterwards he said “mom I need you to listen to me and not formulate answers in your head before even hearing what I have to say.” He said, “I need you to hear me.” My brother then went on to tell my mom how much he was suffering out there and how he had a plan for success at home. My mom immediately called my dad and told him that Chase was moving home, then called me and said, “I have an idea. It’s called Can You Hear Me? and we are going to give kids a voice.”
TDS: How’s Warped Tour been so far? Any challenges, or particularly memorable interactions with people you’ve met on the tour?
AAC: Warped Tour has been great so far and also extremely hot which of course is the beauty of Warped Tour haha! The challenges we face are trying to get our non-profit out there enough so people come to the tent. We are brand new so it is a little harder for us. My most memorable moments have definitely been when some of our teen reps come to the shows and hang out with us. It is this magical moment where we get to connect in person and really get to know the kids outside of our online platform.
TDS: What are you hoping to accomplish by bringing CYHM? on Warped Tour this summer?
AAC: Honestly what we are hoping to accomplish the most is just to reach as many kids as possible and let them know we are here and we are listening.
TDS: Are you currently involved with any artists or musicians to spread the message of CYHM?
AAC: We are involved with a ton of musicians but currently we are partnered with the band From Ashes To New for the entire Vans Warped Tour. They have a song called “Lost and Alone” and it resonates so much with our demographic. They are an amazing group of guys and they donated a bunch of their cds for our #CYHMGoldenTicket prize giveaway every day of tour. We hide one golden ticket in each venue and whoever finds the ticket and brings it back to our tent gets an awesome merch prize from us and the band.
TDS: What do your teen reps do?
AAC: Our teen reps. Spread the word about what Can You Hear Me? is doing and they also try to engage their favorite musicians and get them to hear about what we are doing! The rep. group has really turned into a peer to peer support group. It’s absolutely amazing what these kids do for each other on a daily basis.
TDS: What kind of people are you looking for to join and how can interested folks apply?
AAC: Literally anyone and everyone can join the teen rep. group. As long as your social media is free of drug references or violence you can join!
TDS: What are your plans, both personally and for the organization, once Warped Tour ends?
AAC: Personally I think I am going to catch up on sleep and Netflix haha but as far as Can You Hear Me? goes we have huge plans which may or may not involve more touring! We definitely hope to start going and speaking at schools across the country and are planning some cool things already for next year’s Warped Tour!