FSU Center Initiative to Benefit Palm Beach County Child/Teen Mental Health
The Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families and Children at the FSU College of Social Work has teamed up with the Community Foundation for Palm Beach Counties and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County to tackle pandemic-related mental health challenges for local children and adolescents.
Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused mental health strain for many, especially children and adolescents. To address the needs in areas of Palm Beach County with few resources, three institutions have formed a new partnership to build on an evidenced-based program called “Rebound and Recovery.”
The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties (CFPMBC) is underwriting “Rebound and Recovery” programs — a cognitive-based therapy model — to help children and teens gain the social and emotional tools needed to deal with the traumatic side-effects of the pandemic.
“The ‘Rebound and Recovery’ program will teach our young people new skills and strategies to deal with their fears and anxieties,” said Jaene Miranda, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs. “What they learn will benefit them beyond the pandemic. They’ll acquire skills that they can use throughout their educational journeys, in facing challenges with familial relationships and with friends now and far into the future.”
Working with experts from the center, “Rebound and Recovery” will focus on children ages 4-17. FSU faculty and graduate students will implement the programs throughout the 17 locations of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.
The program teaches young people about their emotions and connects their thoughts, feelings and actions. The interactive course uses age-appropriate activities to help youth regulate themselves emotionally so they can have ownership of their feelings and not depend on adults to tell them how they should feel.
The program stems from work the center’s team members did in Bay County after Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm that devasted the Florida Panhandle. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, they piloted “Rebound and Recovery” at the Learning Pavilion in Tallahassee, a childcare facility serving preschoolers. With the help of this new partnership, the FSU center is expanding the program to include a new curriculum targeting teens in Palm Beach County.
“Once we develop the new curriculum and pilot it with the Boys and Girls Clubs, we’ll be able to share it with others in the county, across the state and beyond,” said Ellen Piekalkiewicz, the center’s director. “Working together with our new partners, we can build a program that is scalable and can have a real life-long impact on the mental health of our youth and teens.”
The collaboration among philanthropists, community organizations and a flagship state research university show how organizations like these can come together to address a pressing need, children’s and teens’ mental health.
The FSU center was started with a gift from the Delray Beach-based Stoops Family Foundation, which was created by Aggie and Jeff Stoops. The Stoops are supporting the Palm Beach County initiative, working with the Community Foundation to tap into the Boys and Girls Clubs’ existing infrastructure to reach young people.
Along with the Stoops, CFPBMC board chair Julie Fisher Cummings and fellow board member Christina Macfarland and her husband, Benjamin, are supporting the Palm Beach County initiative, working with the Community Foundation to tap into the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County’s existing infrastructure to reach young people.
“The ‘Rebound and Recovery’ program will teach our young people new skills and strategies to deal with their fears and anxieties,” Mrs. Macfarland said in the statement. “With its focus on mindfulness, coping skills and self-care, what participants learn from this program will benefit them beyond the pandemic. They’ll acquire skills that they can use throughout their educational journeys, in facing challenges with familial relationships and with friends now and far into the future.”
“The pandemic has laid bare a collective vulnerability around mental health, which is especially poignant in our underserved communities,” said Danita DeHaney Nias, CFPBMC president & CEO. “The generosity of our board members can help us find — and smartly implement — solutions that reach the greatest number of those in need. We hope their leadership gifts will motivate others to join our efforts so we can expand this program to other nonprofits that have a similar infrastructure to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. For 50 years, our foundation has rallied partners to show how philanthropy can seed and nurture those solutions that can have large-scale impacts.”
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