Miss South Dakota 2021 winner Kaitlin O’Neal shared her Social Impact Initiative (SII) “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy You” with USD students and faculty Sept. 27.
O’Neal’s SII is called “BLOOM” and is an acronym tool she created to assist in balancing her mental, physical and emotional health.
“I developed it based on personal experience. Growing up, I struggled with depression and an eating disorder and I didn’t have that support system or any resources to help me work through those struggles,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal said in college she was able to get the help she needed which inspired her to create “BLOOM” for her SII.
BLOOM stands for “Balancing your personal and work life,” “Listening to your body,” “having an Outlet for expression,” “having a positive Outlook” and “Meditation” or “Movement,” depending on an individual’s lifestyle.
“I hope at least one person takes the message behind it that you know you’re not alone. If you are struggling with something, there’s so many people that struggle just like you,” O’Neal said. “There’s a big community out there and resources that we can get you in contact with to help you work through whatever you’re going through.”
O’Neal said although she no longer struggles with depression or anxiety, she still uses BLOOM to help her with the areas in her life that need improvement.
“I’m really hoping that everyone that comes can at least take one thing away that they can implement into their life, to just better their health in general,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal said a struggle for her was wanting to present a program that has both personal experience and credible science behind it.
Currently, O’Neal is working with Sanford Health to increase the educational side of BLOOM.
“I’m excited because they have early childhood experts and all of those kinds of things, so it’s really cool to get to work with professionals with my program I created, all together.” O’Neil said.
In the future, O’Neal hopes to reach people on a national scale with BLOOM.