Six grader organizes walk for children mental health

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Taking strides to stress the importance of mental health. Dozens walked through Shenendehowa High School Sunday morning for Jayden’s Trauma Track Walk, organized by Acadia Middle School student Jayden Skadra.

Jayden is using personal challenges from her own life in an effort to empower others, “Because I’ve been through it and I know what it feels like.”

She walked side-by-side with her fellow classmates, highlighting her passion for mental health advocacy, “It’s just overwhelming. It’s so satisfying that it’s your own daughter doing something of this caliber,” said Jayden’s father, William, explained.

Funding raised through this event will directly help fellow children facing their own challenges.

“For her to do something that she can help not just one, but a lot of families and a lot of different children, the more she helps the more happy we are. The words just can’t describe,” her dad said.

That direct funding will benefit those who get service through the Saratoga Center for the Family. Vicki Braunstein, a therapist there, is blown away by Jayden’s efforts in coming up with the idea of the walk and executing it.

“It makes a huge difference because people need to see themselves out in the world to say, I can do that too. So that’s what she’s doing, which is an incredible thing. And she’s a sixth-grader, she’s 11-years-old, beautiful,” she said.

Fundraising efforts like this one help make sure the center can continue offering help to families and children free of charge. An important boost as the impacts of COVID has continued to have a massive effect on the mental health of many, including kids.

“It has been really really devastating for a lot of families. The stressors of COVID have been astronomical,” Braunstein explained.

Jayden’s efforts also received recognition from the New York State Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health, who presented her with a certificate of appreciation before the walk, “It’s incredible that such a young person has the advocacy skills not only to speak out for herself but on behalf of all of her classmates and friends,” said Andrea Smyth, president, and CEO of the coalition.

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