Fifteen-year-old Hannah Mucklow from Ingleby Barwick has turned her life around with the help of a new weight lifting and mental health support programme called Girls Lifted.

Hannah is now using her experience of recovering from anxiety, depression and self-harm, to inspire other young girls to take action and not give up hope when they are struggling.

She said: “I was in a really bad place, I hated myself and my body and I was overwhelmed with anxiety every time I left the house. It took everything I had to take the first step to try out the Girls Lifted programme.”

Hannah completed Girls Lifted and used her new found confidence to apply for a place in the Miss Tees Valley Contest. She has now progressed to the final.

She said: “I feel very proud of how far I’ve come. I really want to use my experience to support others and let them know that there is help out there and you can get better.

“I’m really grateful for the support from the Girls Lifted programme. It helped me feel brave enough to apply to the Miss Tees Valley Contest. I can’t believe I got through to the final – I would really love it if people would vote for me now.”

Girls Lifted combines an introduction to weight lifting with small group mental health support and is specially designed to help girls build confidence and emotional resilience. It is run by the Happy Cactus Coaching Co, a business developed by training partners and local mums, 37-year-old Michelle Dawson from Eaglescliffe and 44-year-old Natalie Bilton from Ingleby Barwick.

Michelle said: “We are all about building strong bodies and minds. We run different training programmes for children aged six to 16, for girls only, for boys only and for families. We teach people how to lift weights in a fun and safe way, and we help young people talk about their mental health.”

To vote for Hannah and to support her to become Miss Tees Valley visit the Facebook page @missteesvalleyofficial.

To find out more about Happy Cactus Coaching Co go to happycactuscoaching.co.uk