***Youth & Parent with Lived Experience Provide Written Testimonies to the Ohio Full Senate Finance Committee May 28, 2019
As strong advocates for Family and Children First Councils, Jade and her mother, Beth, were both being recruited to testify, and this time it was to the Full Senate Finance Committee regarding funding for multisystem youth within H.B. 166, Ohio's Operating Budget. Due to conflicts, neither were able to give in-person testimony but were able to submit written testimony. Jade's written testimony continued her advocacy for increased funding for mental health services for middle class families with private insurance, preventative school-based programs and local wraparound care. Beth's written testimony provided her parent perspective on the challenges and ultimate success of navigating youth-serving systems of care for her daughter.
During one of the busiest times of the school year, fellow Athens High School students, Jade and Tatum, were able to procure a teacher advisor and facilitate a YouthMOVE introductory meeting. Although there was limited attendence, those that attended showed a great deal of interest in participating in future YouthMOVE meetings and events. After graduation Jade will attend Ohio University while continuing to serve as a councilmember with YouthMOVE Ohio and YouthMOVE Athens. Tatum is a founding councilmember with YouthMOVE Athens and will be able to continue efforts to establish a YouthMOVE group at the high school during her upcoming senior year with support from the county chapter.
After impressing many agency representatives, including Director Lori Criss of OhioMHAS, with her speech at the Resiliency Ring Event the previous week, YouthMOVE Ohio council member, Jade, was asked to travel to Columbus, Ohio to testify in front of an Ohio Senate Finance Subcommittee regarding support of increased funding for mental health services within H.B. 166, Ohio's Operating Budget. The voice of this youth left a powerful impression on the senators as she advocated based on her own lived experience.
May is mental health awareness month and May 9th is Child Mental Health Awareness Day. Youth in Ohio began a tradition 14 years ago to hold a rally at the Ohio State House in order to bring awareness to children's & young adults's mental health needs. Participants were fed lunch and given "swag" such as t-shirts & drawstring bags. There were a variety of speakers including: NAMI, Parents, Youth Leaders, Youth, the director of OHMAS, a juvenile court judge and 2 politicians. The rally always concludes with the formation of a Resiliency Ring on the State House lawn. Following the rally, participants made their way to a resource fair held at a nearby exhibition hall. Athens County youth Jade, Teagan and Kenna helped facilitate the event.
Check out the slideshow below of the 14th Annual Resiliency Ring.