INDIAN TRAIL – RebeccaAnne Edelman was first runner-up in the Miss North Carolina International Pageant on April 7 in Winterville. The Waxhaw resident has been participating in pageants since she was 12 years old.
“The reason I love pageantry is it helps build confident young women,” Edelman said. “It also gives you a platform and megaphone to spread the issue you care about.”
Edelman has advocated for more mental health resources for the past five years. Her platform has become more sophisticated over time thanks to her college studies and experiences in the mental health field
Edelman is finishing up a master’s degree in counseling at Wake Forest University and interning inside a Union County elementary school.
She introduced a resolution to the Indian Trail Council on March 27 calling for state lawmakers to increase the number of school counselors and social workers in schools. The council approved it April 10.
Indian Trail Michael Alvarez has been especially supportive of Edelman’s efforts. He is working with her to set up opportunities for the pair to speak at other town council meetings and increase buy-in.
But that could prove difficult. Alvarez said while people acknowledge something must be done in the wake of school shootings, politics tends to rule out solutions.
Waxhaw Mayor Stephen Maher told Alvarez his town did not want to insert itself in a process that involves shared funding responsibility of state legislature, county commissioners and school board members.
“They are correct it is a state and county job to handle these budget items,” Alvarez said. “This does not mean we can not speak loudly to encourage them to prioritize school counseling and mental health needs. We should all choose to be proactive to keep this as a number one priority rather than placing flowers at one of our schools and saying would have, could have, should have.”
Alvarez believes addressing mental health issues early in a child’s life could save society from spending 10 times that amount over time.
Edelman said putting more counselors in elementary and middle schools with acceptable caseloads will help give children the support they need and address them at a young age.
“If we don’t equip our students with school counselors until they’re in high school, or least a variety of school counselors where they have their individualized needs met, we are doing them a disservice,” she said.
In August, Edelman is moving to the University of Wyoming to pursue a PH.D in counselor education and supervision, focusing on schools.