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by Meredith Youngson •

Meet Danai - The Woman Behind Forward Ever, Backward Never

Talk about an inspiring woman! Danai is the founder and creative behind Forward Ever, Backward Never, a budding organization that works with other businesses in her community to raise awareness and funds for mental health initiatives in Canada. Danai walks the talk - she's warm, bubbly and spreads her kind messages daily on her social media and IRL. I wanted to "sit down" and have Danai share a little more about her story and what get's her excited everyday.  Pssst - Support Danai's amazing initiative and check out the Lake & Oak Tea Co. collaboration here   Describe Forward Ever, Backward Never in one sentence.  Forward Ever, Backward Never is a small organization with a big mission to destigmatize and change behaviours around mental health. What is your “Why” behind your organization? My #1 goal in my life is to make others feel less alone; for everyone to feel like they have  a place, a person, a community. There really is something powerful behind someone saying, “you know what? Me too.” This sentiment and this objective is the reason behind most of what I do in my life, who I am as a person, and Forward Ever, Backward Never is the manifestation of that.  What are some of your favourite “tools” or rituals for mental health upkeep in your own life? (ie - exercise, podcasts) I’m a believer, so I dive into my daily devotional first thing in the morning. I also love to read, and get a really good sweat in at the gym. My favourite mental health tool is laughter. I know it sounds silly, but it’s literally my favourite thing. A little humour can make a world of difference for me, and luckily I have some pretty hilarious people in my life to provide that outlet for me. What is one challenge (mental, physical or other) that you’re especially proud of yourself for overcoming? Starting this initiative took a lot of courage that I didn’t think I had. I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to create so far, and while not without its challenges, the commitment I have made in sticking it out, being consistent and growing is pretty dope! What is inspiring you the most right now?   I am obsessed with seeing small businesses that are making a meaningful impact on our communities. Lake & Oak for example! I love that people are taking their life experience, and turning that into creative outlets for expression in a beautiful and sustainable way. I love seeing us all care more for each other and for the environment. That’s what is inspiring me the most and what I’m stoked to be a part of. Any tips or resources for someone who is experiencing struggles with their mental health for the first time? You are not alone. In fact, everyone - in their own individual way is going through mental health stuff, and that in and of itself is comforting to know. That self-acceptance is the first step we need on the road to recovery. On a practical level, if there’s one place I can direct people - young or old - is to Kids Help Phone. Help is literally a phone call or text away.  Check out Forward Ever, Backward Never