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High School Junior Is Moving For Mental Health

A West Virginia high school student created a dance and intensive exercise room for her Girl Scout Gold Award “Moving for Teen Mental Health” project. Jillian Fortney, a junior at Berkeley Springs High School in West Virginia, also spreads information about teen mental health and ways teens can cope with anxiety, stress, and depression.

Most mental health challenges arise during adolescence, Fortney said. One in five American 12- to 18-year-olds suffers from at least one mental disorder. More than 2.5 million youth in the United States suffer from severe major depressive disorder.

“I believe dance, art, and movement are for everyone. This room will provide many students with the opportunity to dance and move in a safe and well-appointed room, while also giving them the tools to improve their mental health,” Fortney added.

This summer, Fortney and the high school dance team raised just under $8,000 for the dance studio through the Color Walk at Cacapon State Park, making and selling T-shirts and donations from local organizations.

Fortney said that all the money was spent on the ballroom — floors, paint, bars, mirrors, and other dance and exercise equipment McCombe needed. The Lions are paying for the railings, and the mirrors will be installed next week.

The high school dance team painted the dance room, and Fortney, McCumbee, Fortney’s mom, dad and grandmother, and Kelly Smith installed new Harlequin vinyl floors on the dance floor.