Torionna, known loving by her family and friends as Tori, is a sweet, proud, beautiful 10-year-old track and field star who, despite being faced with difficult medical issues, devastating loss and terrible bullying and teasing, is tackling her challenges in individual and family therapy one hurdle at a time and winning.

Tori’s struggles first began in school when she was in 3rd grade. She had trouble focusing and got very anxious and stressed during tests. At the recommendation of her teacher, she was evaluated and began treatment for ADHD. Soon after, her mother noticed she was sleeping all the time and was extremely hard to wake. A specialist diagnosed her with narcolepsy. This too affected her ability to focus in school. Then her cousin, with whom she was very close and who lived with her, was murdered one block from her home. But the final blow that really caused her the most pain, was a rare medical condition known as alopecia which made all of the hair on her head, eyelashes and eyebrows fall out. The kids at school were relentless and teased her about how she looked. Understandably, she fought back with physical and verbal aggression and these outbursts only made things worse and got her in trouble at school.

Her mother adds, “She just shut down. She sank into a deep depression, didn’t want to go to school and lost interest in running. She told me she thought about getting a knife and stabbing herself. I didn’t want her hair loss to affect her education.” She knew Tori needed help coping with all that was going on in her life, so she was referred into the Title XXI Behavioral Health Care Network which provides children with severe emotional disorders with family-centered, community based specialty mental health and substance use services in coordination with the Children’s Medical Services Network.

Through the program, she started weekly individual and biweekly family therapy sessions in the home where she was able to talk about her anger, sadness, anxiety, fear and nerves. She began opening up, building her self confidence, expressing herself more and learning better ways to control her temper.

Tori was able to find solace and confidence in her running once again. She recently competed against 13,000 children across the country and became the youngest local runner ever to qualify for the 200 meter race and the long jump for the Junior Olympic Games, known as the largest national multi-sport event for youth in the United States. Through the program’s wrap around funding for services and resources determined to enhance treatment and recovery, she received financial assistance to travel to New Orleans so she could compete.

Through insightful self awareness, this remarkable young lady wise beyond her years, has made tremendous changes in her attitude and demeanor and has a great sense of pride for all that she has accomplished with her track experience.

Her mother gratefully adds, “It is unexplainable what it has meant to our family to receive the help we’ve gotten from the David Lawrence Centers . Things are honestly 150% better. The support we received through this program has been wonderful.”

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