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VIDEO, PHOTO GALLERY: Event offers awareness of mental health services for children

New Castle News - 5/16/2017

May 12--For Carter Taylor, it was the food, which framed the eight-month-old's relentless smile.

For 3-year-old Alisha Wojnarowski, who couldn't stop dancing long enough to have her picture taken with her mom, it was the DJ'S music pounding from the P.A. system.

Joy was where you found it Thursday at the third annual Children's Mental Health Awareness Day in the Cascade Park picnic grove. Service providers were on hand with table after table of information for families who also came to the park for a free afternoon of pony rides, games, face painting, food, balloons, music and a petting zoo.

While April is Mental Health Awareness Month throughout Pennsylvania, a special day is observed locally each May 11, said Albert Antonelli of Lawrence County Mental Health.

"We got proclamations from Ellwood City, the county and the mayor from the city is coming," he said. "We invited all the mental health providers, we invite their families to come and make awareness of mental health in the county."

Dee Welker, System of Care coordinator for Lawrence County, emphasized that while the day is a celebration of all the help local service providers give, its mainly a time to get families out to see for themselves the kind of assistance that is available to them.

"We have all kinds of family and child-oriented activities," she said, "just anything we can do, and it's all free because we want to bring recognition and make people aware of the kids' mental health issue.

Her position, she explained, is not one found in everywhere in Pennsylvania.

"Not every county in the state yet is a System of Care county but ours is," Welker said. "It's the philosophy of everyone working together instead of different systems pulling different directions, which happens a lot."

Yesterday's visitors enjoyed hot dogs, french fries, cake and drinks in addition to all the activities. They also gathered on the hill between the picnic grove and the former swimming pool area for a group photo.

(Email: d_irwin@ncnewsonline.com)

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(c)2017 New Castle News (New Castle, Pa.)

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