Danielle Betts was the latest Ambassador of the Game, proudly hosted by McFadden’s Movement on Sunday, October 29th.
Danielle, a grade 11 student at John F. Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute in Guelph, has been a strong advocate for mental health for a few years, creating presentations to complete with local schools, and openly standing to voice her own story to help grow the much needed conversation.
A lover of singing, dancing, and writing music, Danielle shares that dance is her “escape, release, and freedom,” and the very thing that keeps her doing as well as she has been to this day, while singing and writing songs is a way for her to understand what’s going on in what she describes as her sometimes “very loud, hectic head.”
Starting her story in the fifth grade where she switched schools due to a boundary issue, Danielle offers that the first few months at her new school were not as bad as she originally thought they would be.
“That changed pretty fast,” Danielle explained. “This guy started bullying me — he would call me names, make me feel worthless, and make me think I was weak. He targeted my weight daily. After that, my grades dropped and so did my care for school and life.”
Many other incidents happened that year for Danielle, in addition to her experience with bullying that left her feeling “stressed, on edge, scared, and angry.”
“I considered suicide and self harm,” Danielle said. “I never did either.”
From there, Danielle’s Mom, Gina Betts, decided it would be a good idea to see a specialist.
“My results were gifted visual spatial learner, ADHD combined type, and anxiety,” Danielle offered of her diagnosis.
The following year, things got a little bit easier for Danielle.
“Myself and others had an idea of how to manage it all,” she said, adding that the next obstacle was dealing with the names that implied she was being dramatic, or overreacting. Danielle remembers that she didn’t have much confidence to go on, and the “awful” thoughts continued.
Grade seven and eight, as Danielle explains, were just as tough with a few more hurtful challenges along the way, however, also serves as the period in her life where things began to really change.
“It was where I started to find myself,” Danielle explained. “Grade eight was my realization that I couldn’t keep living so sadly and so unhealthy, so I started to talk to more people about my issues, I started to love myself.”
Since writing her story for a Norfolk contest submission titled, ‘How to Have a Healthy Mind’ when she was 14 years old, Danielle has since done a significant amount of advocacy work in the mental health conversation, including various presentations, research, and written work.
Now Danielle has one hope for the future: to continue the conversation, and to continue making a difference.