Pre-teen says no to traditional birthday party, hosts mental health fundraiser
'I thought ... why don't we just cancel that and do something kind?' says Ellen Callagher
Twelve-year-old Ellen Carragher hosted a different kind of birthday party this weekend.
Instead of asking for presents, the Charlottetown girl hosted a public skate at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown Saturday as a fundraiser for mental health.
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"Since I get so many presents for Christmas and my birthday, I thought I don't really need anymore, so why don't we just cancel that and do something kind?" she said.
Instead of presents, Ellen asked people to donate to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Today's skate raised around $2,000 and an online auction has so far added almost $5,400.
Ellen's had anxiety since she was five and said it hasn't always been easy.
"It makes me a lot more nervous to do things. I'm sometimes scared to eat certain things, sometimes I can't go to my friends for sleepovers. I miss out on a lot of fun things sometimes, and I regret now that I shouldn't have," she said.
Support for mental health
Her mom, Denise Carragher, said having access to mental health services on the Island is crucial for children.
"When it starts young like this, you need to catch it when it's young, before it snowballs and you have a teenager dealing with things that were never addressed when they were younger," she said.
The event was also inspired by a Carragher's family member who took their own life because of depression, said Denise.
"We just wish they had felt the hope that we feel and we hope that this brings hope to others," she said.
Ellen said her ultimate goal is to let those dealing with mental illness know they're not alone.
"I know some people don't talk about it and it builds up inside you, which I don't think is the right thing to do. I think more people should share their feelings," she said.
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