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12-Year Old Holds Fundraiser Instead of Birthday Party

Lifestyle | By  | 
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theguardian.pe.ca

theguardian.pe.ca

Most 12-year olds can’t wait to celebrate their birthday. But there’s one 12-year old from Prince Edward Island, Canada who has decided to cancel her birthday party next month for a greater cause.

Instead of having a birthday party next month, Ellen Carragher will host a public event at a local skating rink aimed at raising awareness for mental health. Ellen, who has struggled with anxiety since she was five, says she is hosting the event in honor of her uncle, Fred, who died in 2015 amidst a battle with depression.

After Christmas, Ellen questioned whether she really needed another celebration or more presents, which led her to the idea of the event.

“Do I really need to be given money? Do I really need to be given all of that stuff? (My mother and I) thought, ‘why don’t I do something good, why not have a charity,'” Ellen explains. “Then I thought with my anxiety maybe we could do something like that.”

Ellen says her hope for the event is that others who struggle with mental health illnesses will know that there are people like them. Ellen, herself, is comfortable talking about her condition, and wants others to feel just as comfortable.

“(My battle with anxiety) started when I was around five, and it’s never been the same,” she says. “It’s been worse at times. If something big happens in my life, that’s when it happens. I worry about what if something happens to my family or what if something happens to my health or my family’s health.”

Ellen’s mom, Denise, says while it’s still a struggle, she’s noticed an improvement in Ellen’s anxiety since she began taking medication, which is part of the reason why the selfless 12-year old wants to raise awareness for mental health conditions.

Ellen has set up a Facebook page for what she is calling Skate for Mental Health, which is scheduled for February 18. Admission is granted by making a donation of any amount to the Prince Edward Island office of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

A spokesperson from the Canadian Mental Health Association says the organization was stunned at hearing about a 12-year old hosting such an event.

“It’s kind of new territory for us. When we picked our jaws up off the ground and wiped tears away we’re just so proud of her,” said the spokesperson. “She’s doing huge things to bring awareness for mental health.”