A Fresh Start for a Very Special Girl

If you've ever cheered for the underdog, then by all means, support Mariella!

Mariella's story:

From the time she started preschool with a significant speech delay, Mariella has faced obstacles most kids have never experienced. In addition to the communication difficulties, a delay in the development of social skills made it very hard for her to fit in and make friends. School work has also been a challenge and a big source of anger and anxiety for her over the years, causing her confidence to falter at times.

In spite of all this, Mariella has tried some pretty difficult things away from the social and acedemic pressures of school. As a quiet middle schooler with a very soft spot for animals, Mariella had great success with horseback riding lessons. A year ago, after a significant weight gain,  she fell in love with Crossfit. While each small accomplishment helped her grow self-worth, it often wasn't enough to overcome the sting of sitting alone to eat in the crowded school lunchroom or to go years without receiving a birthday party invitation. 

Now a tenth grader, Mariella is still working hard to overcome struggles with school work, confidence, anger and anxiety. She makes steady progress although there have been setbacks. In October 2012, just as Mariella began her freshman year in high school, Superstorm Sandy's flood waters devastated her hometown and severly damaged her school and home. Her parents are recently divorced. Mariella, her mother and sister are all adjusting to living on Mom's  low income, thus riding lessons and Crossfit have been discontinued. Mariella gets help with managing her daunting high school work load, but her regular encounters with bullies and mean girls leave her feeling defenseless and degraded. Mariella's weight gain has elicited a negative body image as well as frustration as she struggles and often fails to curb eating.  Good things are happening, though. Finally, Mariella has found a wonderful, supportive friend in school and she summoned the courage to try out for winter cheerleading. She didn't make the team but gave a great effort.

Why we are fundraising:

Rather than spend another summer regressing in social isolation, Mariella would continue to grow with a big change in scenery and routine. She is ready for a challenge and says "I want to get over my shyness and fear of mountain climbing"  and "make new friends" on a North Carolina Outward Bound Incercept adventure. This 28-day program takes teens who are struggling into the Appalachian Mountains on a wilderness expedition in unfamiliar territory to instill confidence and strength and to help them develop new perpspectives and skills for dealing with the transition into adulthood. Parents are required to attend a 2 1/2 day conference at the end of the expedition.

Outward Bound teaches more than outdoor skills. They encourage participants to step out of their comfort zones, beyond percieved limitations. Their programs are designed around timeless, universal principles such as physical fitness, self-reliance, craftmanship (modeling quality and intention in one's actions) and  compassion. Students develop courage and  communication skills as they learn to take appropriate risks and collaborate to intiate effective action. There is no doubt that Mariella will be uncomfortable at times out on the course, but that's okay. It is when we're pushed beyond our ususal  limits that we find out how strong we really are. After all, potential is not realized inside a comfort zone. (Sandy survivors know this well!) 

We have applied for a scholarship, which, if granted, could cover up to one third of her tuition. Still, there are travel expenses between New York and Asheville and lodging to cover, as well as the cost of outfitting her for a 28-day wilderness expedition. Once these expenses are met, any funds left over would go toward a month of Crossfit in July to get her in shape for this physically challenging experience. We would finish the month with a spa/beauty day for Mariella, who, after 28 days without a shower, would surely be grateful. 

 

Donations

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  • Cathy Corbett 
    • $20 
    • 81 mos
  • Cathy Corbett 
    • $20 
    • 82 mos
  • Michelle Liechtung  
    • $25 
    • 83 mos
  • Cathy Corbett 
    • $20 
    • 83 mos
  • Cathy Corbett 
    • $20 
    • 84 mos
See all

Organizer

Maria Eichinger Spinelli 
Organizer
Island Park, NY
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