10/30/2013 11:02 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Born to Run

New York City is abuzz with marathon preparations. We've officially begun ING NYC Marathon week: a time when spectators and runners alike are getting ready for the challenges, elation and sense of community brought forth by this weekend's race and the celebrations surrounding it. I can't wait to be at the finish line on Sunday, wildly cheering on the 10 brave individuals who will be running for Team Born This Way, of Born This Way Foundation (BTWF).

While our runners have been stretching, training, and psyching themselves up for this enormous challenge, the team at BTWF has been inspired to think more critically about the intersections of mental and physical health. In light of the 48,000 individuals banding together to accomplish 26.2 miles through this dynamic city, I'd like to ask you to let us know how we can -- together -- work to keep young people physically and mentally well, and committed to building the world that we want them to inherit.

To give us some added perspective, we called upon our Youth Advisory Board to discuss the ways in which a healthy mind and body can generate kinder and braver communities.

Check out some answers below, and please add your own to the comment section. We can't wait to hear from you!

Annie, 19, from New York City, wants other young people not to feel dwarfed by these big terms, and to understand that they have the tools to take control of their own wellbeing: "The terms 'physical wellness' and 'mental wellness' seem overwhelming. These terms don't mean that you need to become a fitness junkie or spiritual guru; they just mean that you need to take care of yourself. It sounds cliché, but eating right, getting fresh air, and exercising are the key to physical health. I feel less confined and better, overall. It helps me feel like an upgraded version of myself."

Shakeera, 21, from Philadelphia, shares her mantra on positive thinking with other young people: "As I went through hard times I had to start speaking positive things to myself. For instance, "I can do all things; I am unique; I am loved; I am passionate and will create a positive change in my community." In order to be happy or to progress in life we have to start thinking positively and speak greatness into our own lives. As a result, our outlook on life and how we think of ourselves shows through our actions."

Mirissa, 18, from Chicago, tells us what she needs to feel mentally and physically fit: "In order to achieve physical and mental wellness, I need access to more resources that explain my conditions in clear terms, present positive coping skills and other remedies, and offer a supportive community. I also need safe spaces where I can work on staying in shape, exercising my social skills, and feel comfortable communicating my needs."

I am so proud of these young people for sharing their vision for the world, and for working to achieve it. Here at Born This Way Foundation, we believe that everyone has the right to feel safe, and to have the skills and opportunities to be empowered and to make a difference in the world. If you're interested in supporting our work and the 10 brave, inspiring individuals who will be running the New York City Marathon on behalf of the Foundation, please check out this link.

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