ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) -- Katherine Graham has been acting since she was 6 years old, but with passion, dedication, and hard work, also comes the pressures teenagers like her face.
"A lot of teens feel the pressure to look a certain way, be perfect at all times," Graham described.
It's why Kayla Schaffroth, the founder of a new performing arts training center in Encinitas called Project Performer, set the stage around mental health when she created the curriculum.
"We focus on the mental part of it, making sure they develop as confident self-sufficient go-getters; that's a big part of our mission," said Schaffroth.
Schaffroth was 3 years old when she first took center stage, performed in plays nationwide, and earned her college degree in musical theatre.
"It feels so ingrained in me that this is what I'm supposed to be doing,” Schaffroth said.
The performing arts studio that opened Aug. 9 was an online concept born out of the pandemic last year to give young artists a chance to pursue their passion through virtual classes.
"Even though there weren't many shows, it kept them focused, encouraged, and motivated during this really tough time,” said Schaffroth.
Students will now hear cues in-person at the site off Encinitas Boulevard, with classes in singing, dancing, and theatre, along with courses Elevate Teen, which focuses on building confidence and self-esteem.
"It's been phenomenal to have that because even the classes online really helped to connect socially during the pandemic and help to find a solid group of friends and build confidence as a performer and feel comfortable," said Graham, a current student of Schaffroth's.
Schaffroth concluded, "If we can be a part of their journey and act as mentors and as a guide, and provide them a safe and loving environment, then we're doing a great job as we get into these crazy times for teens."