Download file to read interview with new OhioMHAS Director, Lori Criss
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.
Representatives from many youth-serving agencies, the director of Athens Family and Children First Council, the Athens YouthMOVE adult coordinator and a YouthMOVE Ohio youth councilmember met at the Athens County Library. Jade and her mother introduced YouthMOVE to the supportive agencies. Of high priority is identifying & recruiting more Athens County youth to participate in future steering committee meetings.
Council members participated in a meeting either in person at the YouthMOVE Ohio NAMI office in Columbus, Ohio or via conference call. The main objective of the meeting was to plan and assign tasks for the 14th Annual Resiliency Ring Event scheduled for May. A secondary objective was to understand the stakes for mental health funding within the upcoming Ohio H.B. 166, Operating Budget Bill. Angela Lariviere, director of YMOhio, educated the council on the issue. As she shared advocacy goals regarding particular targets of mental health funding including: maintaining Family Children First Councils, preventing the custody relinguishment occurring within middle class families in order to access mental health services and improving at-risk specialized education services, Jade and her mother shared lived experience stories that improved understanding of the challenges that some families face navigating the systems of care. It was determined that Jade's lived experience would be particularly valuable for others to hear at the Resiliency Ring Event occurring at the State House prior to the vote on H.B. 166. Jade agreed to be a youth speaker at the event.
A meeting was held at the Athens Family and Children First Council offices with Jade, her mother and the director of Athens FCFC present. The main discussion centered on establishing a steering committee with community partners and Athens County youth.
Councilmembers brainstorming in a breakout workgroup.
Jade and her mother were able to travel to Columbus, Ohio for 1 day of the weekend retreat. On this day, the agenda focused on Engage 2.O and a developing Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services social media campaign.
Click the link to learn more about Engage 2.0 https://www.wraparoundohio.org/ohiomhas-engage-2-0-grant-summary/
Click the link to see the now launched social media campaign http://heyimhere.org/
Jade, her mother, and Angela, director of YouthMOVE Ohio, presented to the Athens FCFC full council. They gave an overview of YouthMOVE and requested FCFC to vote on becoming the lead agency for an Athens County YouthMOVE chapter. It was reported that the full council showed interest and enthusiasm for beginning a YouthMOVE chapter in Athens. Following the presentation upon a vote, Athens FCFC agreed to become the lead agency.
Of Note: the YES vote also meant that YouthMOVE Athens is in partnership with FCFC with voting rights at future full council meetings.
Snapshot of some of the varied workshops offered. There was something of value for every attendee: providers, families, youth. Youth Ambassadors included their authentic voice within many workshops.
YouthMOVE Ohio Council developed a journal for youth to use during the summit.
Youth Ambassadors facilitate closing ceremonies.
A meeting was held at the county 317 Board offices. In attendence were representatives from Athens Family and Children First Council, Meigs Family and Children First Council, Athens 317 Board, and YouthMOVE Ohio Council. The director of YouthMOVE Ohio joined in by phone to help clarify procedures and garner support for a YouthMOVE Athens County chapter.
Angela Lariviere, director for YouthMOVE Ohio, always suspected Athens was a plausible county to start a YouthMOVE chapter. She had even previously sent some funding to the 317 board in hopes that the opportunity would present itself. Once Jade joined the statewide YouthMOVE Ohio council in June 2018, it seemed that the opportunity had finally arrived. Jade has always had a drive for advocacy since she was young and has participated in a variety of movements and causes through the years. Now she found she could use her knowledge gained through lived experience to help others by working towards improving youth-serving systems of care. In addition, her mother, Beth, brought her own professional skill set as well as her own lived experience from the prospective of a parent navigating youth-serving systems. Part of her family's experiences included familiarity with Athens Family and Children First Council. Across the state, many established county YouthMOVEs were already using their county's FCFC to act as their lead agency. Therefore, it was logical for Angela to travel to Athens to meet with Jade, her mom and Wendy Shields, director of Athens FCFC, to begin the exploration phase of bringing a county YouthMOVE chapter to the area.