With the importance of raising awareness for children’s mental health and wellness at an all-time high, two Smithson Valley High School students are wrapping up a four-month long campaign that raised a total of $7,121 for the only local non-profit mental health facility for area youth.
The campaign started in January and ends, appropriately, at the end of May which is Mental Health Awareness Month. Current Smithson Valley junior Colin Fuller and sophomore Ryann McAnelly were selected as the first students to become Trailblazers for the Junior League of San Antonio’s Paving Paths Campaign to help tackle mental illness in children.
“When we first started this campaign,” said McAnelly, “I knew I had friends or fellow classmates who have struggled with mental health issues that made me want to get involved. Little did I know that COVID-19 would change the outcome of my sophomore year. Being a Trailblazer for mental health will always keep me advocating for ways to help teens during a crisis and hopefully bring more awareness that there is help available and remove the embarrassment that sometimes comes with admitting they are struggling.”
Throughout their campaign, the pair have raised awareness about mental wellness along with money for the Clarity Child Guidance Center, which serves Bexar, Kendall and Comal county youth, ages 3 to 17. Throughout this pandemic, the Center has continued to provide necessary services through telehealth as well as inpatient and outpatient care.
The duo surpassed their initial goal of raising $5,000 by partnering with local businesses, including Panda Express in Spring Branch and the Smithson Valley Middle School concessions, who offered a percentage of their sales on a given day towards the campaign.
“Ryann and I have witnessed firsthand the struggles of mental health,” said Fuller. “Right after spring break, most teens were not on a schedule, didn’t have school work and couldn’t interact with others as easily as before. This time was a nuisance for us, but thankfully Comal ISD helped bring back some normalcy for us with online office hours and virtual meetings with our classmates. It’s still not the same as before, but now seeing this firsthand, I know Ryann and I will both continue to advocate for mental wellness.”
In fact, Fuller and McAnelly recently organized a food and supply drive for the Center’s food pantry which benefits the families which it serves. While dropping off their donations, the director explained that the center was in need more than ever due to the pandemic, and teens are struggling the most.
While May along with Mental Health Month is coming to an end, Fuller and McAnelly know that the struggles of mental health won’t end, and they hope that anyone who may need help finds it either through a parent, friend or facility like Clarity.
Cruzin' Comal with Mr. Kim
-Pictured from left are Smithson Valley Students Colin Fuller and Ryann McAnelly who spearheaded a mental health and wellness campaign this spring, including organizing a food and supply drive for the Clarity Child Guidance Center.