ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — The Cadettes with Girl Scout Troop 5079 have been together since second grade. As they grow up, they tackle life and challenges head on.
“When I first told people that I had anxiety, a lot of people thought I was faking it,” says Makayla Filasky.
Filasky shows so much confidence in front of the camera on her YouTube channel. Still, she says her anxiety has been so bad that she had to be home-schooled for eight weeks.
Her troop knows young people everywhere are dealing with it too, so the Cadettes came up with the website Project Peer Support to take tough issues like anxiety and depression public.
“I don’t even know if I can put that into words how proud I am of them,” says Troop Leader Angela Ward. “They really have shown so much maturity and leadership and just compassion for people who might be struggling.”
Ward says this effort is earning praise from people of all ages, and it’s now included in the Hanover Parent Resource Center.
Cadette Paige Handy says it really hit home when Project Peer Support was front and center at the Ashland Strawberry Faire on June 4.
“Someone said that they were struggling with bipolar disorder and they had wished that they had something like this when they were younger to help them,” remembers Handy. “So I thought that was really nice.”
The website includes hotlines, encouraging words and resources. The Cadettes say it was designed by teens for teens.
“A lot of kids now a days even ones we don’t know are using this website kinda privately, looking at it. It’s probably helping them a lot to be brave enough to tell their parents or just to look for help,” says Handy.
Filasky has this message for anyone who is struggling: “Don’t keep it a secret, tell people.”
Project Peer Support is going on the road to reach more people in September. The troop will be set up at the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation SpeakUp 5K on September 10.