How can NFTs make the world a happier place? An interview with Amelia Strzepek, wellyouNFT
Currently, one thing is clear — the entire society could use a little bit more of peace, freedom, happiness and well-being. Omnipresent fear-mongering headlines can easily make us feel like the whole world is falling apart, despite many positive stories that exist but rarely get our attention. The corona pandemic, social isolation, climate change, international conflicts — examples are countless. Unfortunately, not without damage to our mental health.
Mental Health Explained
Mental health is essential to our collective and individual ability as humans so we can think and interact with each other and simply enjoy life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health can be defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community¹.
And yet, people all around the world feel anything but happy. The numbers are petrifying. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability globally. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds². Mental health problems also affect around one in six children, who suffer from depression, anxiety and behavioral disorders, which are often just a direct response to what is happening in their lives³. The causes are countless.
Call for Action
According to the WHO, actions are necessary on all fronts: we have to continue to increase mental health awareness, reduce stigma, increase access to quality mental health care and effective treatments⁴. But we also have to conduct research to identify new treatments or improve existing ones for all mental disorders.
This is exactly where people’s well-being meets Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) — as a new potential tool for social good and mental health improvement.
NFTs — in Simple Language
Let me take one step back, so that we can quickly understand what NFTs are and how they work.
- What is an NFT?
NFT means Non-Fungible Token. But this probably doesn’t make it any easier for you to understand.
- Let’s visualize
You might have heard of CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Cool Cats, Meebits, CryptoKitties… These are only a few examples of the most popular NFT collections ever released.
- NFT Definition
Now that you already have a picture in your head, let’s explore the definition. Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are a new class of digital assets on a blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from each other⁵. They help in representing the ownership of digital and physical assets on the blockchain, starting from digital artwork to the gaming industry⁶.
- What does Non-fungible mean?
Non-fungibility means that NFTs are something unique, one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable and not interchangeable. You cannot easily exchange them like for example 10 EUR banknotes or two bitcoins. They are fungible. If you exchange one bitcoin for another, you will end up with exactly the same thing.
Now, let’s imagine that you are a happy owner of a U2 special edition album. Someone asks you to exchange it for the newest Taylor Swift album with Taylor’s signature on it. If you do it, you wouldn’t have the exact same thing, although albums belong to the same class of things. You would now listen to an entirely different artist, meaning those two albums are not fungible. They are unique. Like NFTs.
- What does Token mean?
A token is a digitized form of an asset.
In case of NFTs, a token describes a smart contract living on a blockchain that represents an ownership registry⁷. NFTs establish proof of ownership for digital assets. Simply speaking, you can check when the original NFT was created and check the history of ownership changes. Isn’t that great and revolutionary?
- What NFTs are NOT…?
NFTs are not a cryptocurrency like bitcoin or Ethereum, although they use the same technology (blockchain).
- Use cases and metaverse
There are many different use cases that emerge from NFTs, starting from the most obvious like art and more complicated ones like NFTs for product supply chains or voting systems.
NFTs are also the bridge to the metaverse (understood as a digital 3D universe)⁸. They can provide users with access to the virtual world (e.g. through the ownership of digital land), with identity (e.g. having your own NFT avatar), community (holding certain NFTs can prove a user’s support of a project) as well as social experiences (simply owning an avatar might grant a virtual membership to some exclusive experiences in the metaverse as well as the physical world like project events etc.).
- NFT Controversy vs. Social Good
You might have heard that some NFTs have been sold for millions. Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter sold a tokenized representation of his first-ever tweet for more than $2.9 million⁹. Also, a billionaire Elon Musk listed a tweet of his as an NFT (despite a bid for over $1 million, he ultimately decided not to sell it).
However, as the author of the Ethereum whitepaper Vitalik Buterin said, NFTs can be a social good, not just a casino for rich celebrities¹⁰. If the focus remains on such people, then the potential for NFTs to have any real social impact could be lost.
Here is what we have to do in order to not lose the potential.
How can NFTs make the world a happier place? Interview with Amelia Strzepek, co-founder of wellyouNFT @
Not without reason, Disneyland has been coined “the happiest place on Earth.” There is one major feeling that describes the “wow” effect you experience when entering the park — happiness.
This is what it feels like when looking at wellyouNFT and their Courageous Children NFTs. This NFT collection includes 10,000 randomly generated and unique NFTs of children engaging in activities that make them flourish and grow into healthy, confident, and fully-formed human beings. These kids are the building block of the Happy Nation (see the vibrant cover picture of this article).
The wellyou team set out to create NFTs to build a digital platform — the Happy Nation — for overall well-being. Since a happy nation should start with happy children, this is why wellyouNFT is starting with the Courageous Children, and with that, support children’s well-being worldwide.
While exploring the project more, I decided to go directly to the source and ask the co-founder of wellyou — Amelia Strzepek, the heart & soul of wellyou — a couple of questions that explain the magic behind the project as well as the potential of NFTs to improve mental health. I also had the pleasure to meet Amelia in person during one of the blockchain events in Berlin and I can tell you — what an inspiring and warm-hearted person she is!
Klaudia: To start, what’s the story behind wellyouNFT?
Amelia: Before NFTs, or as we say in the NFT space “in real life” (IRL), we are the founders of a startup called wellyou that provides a science-based and gamified program to boost people’s wellbeing.
Together with a university, we were given the opportunity to create a specialized program for children who suffer from abuse: we knew we had to make this happen! A friend suggested NFTs as a way to turn this aspiration into a reality and further our social impact. With the help of our talented artist, Karo Becker, our #CourageousChildren NFT collection was born. With a successful drop, we will create the above-mentioned program “wellyou for children,” support 7 NPOs worldwide and create the Happy Nation, which is a place where you do good to yourself and others, complete with a passport!
Klaudia: What is your mission?
Amelia: Our mission has always been to help people become happier, healthier, and more compassionate human beings. We hope that our #CourageousChildren NFT collection will form the building blocks of our vision to make this world a better place by giving people the knowledge, tools, and motivation to make positive change in their lives. We see the Happy Nation as the digital embodiment of this vision with a strong and supportive community that inspires wellbeing in all its members.
Klaudia: How can Courageous Children NFT holders make this world a happier place?
Amelia: By investing in our project, NFT holders will enable us to create the “wellyou for children” app with the university to help kids from abusive backgrounds. This app will always be free of charge for families, schools and organizations worldwide.
What’s more, holders will contribute to, and benefit from, the Happy Nation Fund. This wallet will fund other promising NFT projects boosting social impact. Holders will also support 7 NPOs fighting for the wellbeing of young people and make Happy Nation a reality. The Happy Nation will be a place where citizens can meet their new best friend, take care of their wellbeing, and participate in exciting community activities, exclusive groups, creative challenges, and fun games and thus form the basis of a happier world.
We always say, if you want to change the world for the better, the best thing you can do is work on yourself and become a happier and more compassionate human being.
Klaudia: How are you going to measure the success of the project?
Amelia: There are deliverables at every milestone reached on our roadmap. The Happy Nation fund will already exist at 25% sold and we will support NPOs at 50%. The more support we receive, the more we can invest in bringing this project to life. Our roadmap is available on our website: https://well-you.com/
Klaudia: Should Big Tech companies’ plans for a metaverse excite us or scare us?
Amelia: The beginnings of any major technological transition is at once met with enthusiasm and hesitancy and the metaverse is no different. On the one hand, people are excited for new ways to interact and connect with one another, but what will be the mental, social and environmental implications of this new technology? As with many things, time will tell but if we have learned anything from recent history, if the proper security and regulatory measures are put into place while also making the technology more sustainable, we can definitely get excited.
Klaudia: What are the biggest difficulties while building a social-good startup?
Amelia: The difficulties that pop up when building a startup never stop and, to me, the secret sauce is a combination of vision and team. Building a startup takes constant strength, grit, resilience and problem-solving skills. But if you wake up every day with the conviction that what you are building MUST exist because it will help others, as well as having team members who you can trust and vice versa, then very little can stop you.
Klaudia: You are based in Berlin. How is the NFT community developing and what role do women play in there?
Amelia: Berlin is a burgeoning startup hub in Europe so it doesn’t surprise me there is also an NFT community here. I am now starting to discover this space and, after an event I spoke at last week, have unearthed an amazing group of women who are looking to onboard into NFTs. This truly excites me because not only do we need more women in NFTs, and tech in general, but they can without a doubt positively shape the space from all aspects — as advisors, artists, collectors, project creators etc. Women in NFTs is one of the most supportive communities that I have ever experienced.
Klaudia: What advice do you have for social entrepreneurs in the blockchain space?
Amelia: Blockchain technology is truly the future and I can envision so much social good by merging this technology with civil society. The sooner we can figure out how to do so professionally and efficiently, the more good we can do in this world.
No matter if you are a blockchain enthusiast or not, one thing is for sure — mental health issues are something we all want to fight.
Therefore, I hope that this article was helpful to understand a whole new utility that the blockchain based NFTs bring to us as humans — a revolutionary concept to create community wellness in digital space.
At the same time, I truly believe that the real potential of NFTs for mental health and social good is still not fully discovered and that possibilities are endless.
I would like to send a warm THANK YOU to Amelia and the whole wellyou crew (co-founders Adam Schuster & Amelia Strzepek and artist Karo Becker) for providing our readers with valuable insights — hopefully there are more projects like yours to come and make this world a happier place.
A decentralized, happier place.
Please notice this article has been created to explain and promote the utility of NFTs as well as spread awareness around the whole DeFi & blockchain ecosystem. At the same time it contributes to mentoring programs that the author is a participant of: DLT Talents — Mentoring Program Empowering Female Blockchain Talents as well as DeFi Talents — Mentoring Program Empowering Talents for Leadership in the Decentralized Finance Space organized by the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management / Frankfurt School Blockchain Center.
Pssst, the recruitment is open again, apply now!
: World Health Organization, Mental health: strengthening our response, published 30.03.2018, accessed 15.01.2022, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response
: World Health Organization, Mental health, published 12.12.2019, accessed 15.01.2022, https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health#tab=tab_1
: Mental Health Foundation, Children and young people, last updated 12.08.2021, accessed 15.01.2022, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/c/children-and-young-people
: World Health Organization, Mental health (…), accessed 15.01.2022
: Investopedia, Rakesh Sharma, Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Definition, last updated 14.12.2021, accessed 16.01.2022 https://www.investopedia.com/non-fungible-tokens-nft-5115211
: Georgia Weston, NFTs And Their Role In The “Metaverse”, published 24.12.2021, accessed 16.01.2022, https://101blockchains.com/nfts-and-metaverse/
: Dr. M. Vaz, M.S. Lappe, C. Hartmann, D. Merz-Lander, Dr. A. Patz, Working Paper on a Digital Ecosystem, Non-Fungible Tokens, Börse Stuttgart, published 17.12.2021, accessed 17.01.2022, https://www.boerse-stuttgart.de/-/media/files/gruppe-boerse-stuttgart/pressemitteilungen/de/2021/20211217---working-paper-on-a-digital-ecosystem---non-fungible-tokens.ashx
: Binance, Why NFTs Are The Keys to Accessing the Metaverse, published 08.12.2021, accessed 19.01.2022, https://www.binance.com/en/blog/nft/why-nfts-are-the-keys-to-accessing-the-metaverse-421499824684903085
: Brian Quarmby, Cointelegraph, Nifty News: Jack Dorsey sells genesis tweet for $2.9M, NFTs save wild pandas and more, published 23.03.2021, accessed 19.01.2022, https://cointelegraph.com/news/nifty-news-jack-dorsey-sells-genesis-tweet-for-2-9m-nfts-save-wild-pandas-and-more
: Greg Thomson, Cointelegraph, Vitalik Buterin: NFTs can be a social good, not just a casino for rich celebrities, published 24.03.2021, accessed 20.01.2022, https://cointelegraph.com/news/vitalik-buterin-nfts-are-a-social-good-not-just-a-casino-for-rich-celebrities
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