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Conemaugh Township student hosts mindfulness event for Gold Award

Tribune-Democrat - 11/11/2022

Nov. 11—DAVIDSVILLE, Pa. — When Conemaugh Township Area High School senior Katie Troxell began exploring options for her Girl Scout's Gold Award project, the topic of mental health came to her mind.

After discussing the idea with the school's Reaching Educational Achievements with Clinical Mental Health (REACH) counselor, she embarked on a journey to put on a mental health conference, and on Thursday that idea became a reality as the Mental Health Mindfulness event at the high school.

"This is really the way I felt like I could impact my community," Troxell said.

After meeting with the superintendents of the sending schools for Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center twice to gauge interest, the student began organizing the event.

On her own, she contacted sponsors, speakers, specialists and scheduled the entire program, which featured keynote speaker Joshua Horner, of Stayinit.

There were also breakout sessions with speakers who focused on substance abuse, suicide prevention and other related topics and a yoga class, a pound fitness class and therapy dogs.

More than 80 students from Windber Area, Ferndale Area, Westmont Hilltop, Greater Johnstown and Conemaugh Township Area school districts attended the event with their advisers.

"I fell like this is going to be really good for people's mindsets," Westmont junior Ella Clawson said.

When her guidance counselor told her about the opportunity, Clawson was excited to see what the conference offered.

"I just felt like it was a good opportunity," she said.

She commended Troxell for organizing the event and said she was looking forward to hearing from the speakers, as well as bringing back any lessons she learned to her school.

"Katie is a great person, and I know she has a great heart for people," Windber guidance counselor Kelly Birkhimer said.

Birkhimer has known Troxell for some time because she used to work at Conemaugh Township.

She was also appreciative of the opportunity to introduce students to mental health tools and topics.

She said the existence of the event and attendance showed how much teenagers are now paying attention to mental health.

Clawson said it's become a bigger topic since the pandemic because of how distant everyone had to be, and Troxell added that her ultimate goal with the event was to start a conversation on the subject while teaching others to take care of themselves.

After Horner finished providing his own series of tips on mindfulness, the groups of students entered the workshops in 45-minute increments.

"She did an amazing job," Alexis Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman is the program coordinator for Conemaugh Township's REACH group who mentored Troxell for the conference.

She said it was a really cool moment to see Troxell take the information and run with it to create the program.

Troxell has participated in Girl Scouts for the past 13 years and stuck with it because she's made a lot of good friends and enjoys the community impact of the organizations.

She'll find out in the coming months if her conference and other work has lived up to the standards to receive a Gold Award.

However, Troxell said the award is just a bonus on top of getting to help her community.


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