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Just Strong

St. Louis Young Dancer Becomes Ambassador Who Shares Mental Health Resources With Families Affected By Gun Violence

As a new brand ambassador for Just Strong Clothing, 9-year-old St. Louis County resident Presley Schellert is helping families with children who've been victims of gun violence and its traumatic aftermath find resources for mental health and trauma therapy. 

Presley knows all too well what deep-seated trauma can cause. 

“Last April, our family was caught up in a mall shooting. For the 25 terrifying minutes it took to make our way to our car, in the dark, with other sobbing and terrified families, we didn’t know how many shooters there were and where they were," says Kelly Schellert, founding partner and creative director of Ethos Design Collective and Ceanii Artful Interiors. "Presley’s night terrors soon turned into affecting her physically and making her ill."

As a competition dancer for Motion Express School of Dance & Acrobatics in Sappington, Kelly says Presley had a panic episode just hours before she had to perform first for the day at a national competition. "With barely a few hours of sleep, she still performed that number, plus the large group number. Both performances went on to win first place overall national championships for their age group. Her third number, a Broadway trio, won third place overall at nationals."

"Dance is Presley's happy place, and the whole crew and Dance Force families at Motion Express rallied around her to provide an excellent and consistent source of joy over the summer. As her parents, we applaud her tenacity and spirit and facing down the challenges to put it all aside," she adds. 

Along the way, Presley learned to embrace the philosophy of being strong in both body and mind -- an approach that meshes completely with the platform of Just Strong Clothing, a global lifestyle brand for strong women. 

Now, Presley helps others restore mental strength through healing art therapy and finding counseling services that are low to no cost. Art therapy helps children explore their emotions, improve self-esteem, relieve stress, and ease anxiety and depression. True to her mission, Presley attends virtual counseling each week, and says art is one of the healing tools that she really loves. 

Counselors that incorporate this type of therapy may encourage youths to create emotional wheels, make puppets, develop stress paintings, mold a sculpture or assemble a journal. 

"If you're a family in need of child trauma therapy, reach out to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network for all kinds of resources to cope. If you’d like to help share the positive message of strong in mind, strong in body, grab your own T-shirt @juststrong and add Presley’s code KELSCH10 for your own discount," says Kelly.

The NCTSN is funded by the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is jointly coordinated by UCLA and Duke University. For assistance, email or call 310.235.2633 or 919.682.1552.