VOICES: I want Daytonians to know they are loved, appreciated, celebrated and seen

When I first relocated to Dayton from Los Angeles at 33, I immediately fell in love with the heart of the city: its people.

Over the last four years, I’ve evolved into a successful businesswoman, starting up and partnering on various service-based ventures while simultaneously overcoming severe health obstacles, including two brain tumors and mental wellness struggles.

My mental health journey pushed me to advocate for mental health awareness and eventually sparked the idea that is now the Gem City Selfie Museum.

Giving guests more than just a fun activity, the Gem City Selfie Museum is a creative hub, cultivating community engagement and sparking creativity through visual art installation walls, to bring focus to positive life experiences and boost confidence. Using vibrant colors, and fun, interactive props, we are taking the selfie experience to a whole new level.

When I was struggling with maintaining and even understanding my mental health and what it meant to actually apply self-care, I began seeking resources for happiness and light in some new and unconventional ways. I realized that as I began to see myself more in photos, living in moments and creating memories, I was being refueled with self-love by seeing myself encapsulated in a photo. A moment in time reminded me of not only who I am, but that there is so much beauty in the human growth experience. So, I began intentionally taking more selfies and reciting affirmations to myself to help me remember that I matter.

Gem City Selfie Museum has presented a variety of exhibitions since its launch date approximately four years ago in Dayton, focusing on mental health awareness and promoting positive self-image. This Black History Month, we will launch the “Building Together Our Black Future” Pop-up Exhibit in collaboration with Gem City Market, February 3 through 28. While visiting the Gem City Market, patrons will be able to pose and take captivating pictures featuring backdrops designed by local artists, while also browsing from a selection of local businesses owned by Black and Brown Daytonians.

I want to share my love for the city by giving back to the community members who make Dayton such a rich place. I and the entire Gem City Selfie Museum collective want the people of Dayton to know that they are loved, appreciated, celebrated, and seen.

What better way to commemorate that than with a selfie?

NaAsiaha Simon is a creative force bridging the gap between mental health and community investment.

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