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KidsPeace Visitor Jordan Burnham Gives Teens and Young Adults Hope

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Jordan Burnham is a confident, articulate young man who makes appearances to speak about mental health awareness and encourage youth to seek help when things are bothering them. Jordan speaks from experience and from his heart, which is why the kids who hear him pay close attention and feel comfortable asking him questions.


Jordan recently visited Dr. Julius Licata, Director of TeenCentral.Net, and graciously gave a talk to the teens who are in treatment at KidsPeace in the PA Residential Programs, making quite an impression on the kids and adults who heard his presentation. He also talked to the members of TeenCentral.Net via videotape, hoping to help teens feel more comfortable about admitting they have problems and seeking help.


Jordan’s Story

Jordan learned early on that wearing a happy mask was the best way to keep up appearances and pretend to be “normal.” His true feelings were deep inside and only came to the surface when he had consumed a lot of alcohol. His “cover” for seeming happy included sports, jokes and dating. He became very popular and won the election to be class president in 9th grade. All the while, he was hiding feelings from his family and friends. Then he failed his driving test for the third time and lost his cool for the first time, yelling, screaming and cursing at his father. His mother took him to a counselor, but he found it hard to relate to her. He was diagnosed with depression in 10th grade.


Jordan Burnham

Jordan Burnham



As Jordan entered 11th grade, he felt more pressure to do well on his standardized tests and make sure his slipping grades got better in order to get accepted by a good college. It was in 11th grade that he started thinking about suicide. He was taken to a “mental hospital” after telling his girlfriend that he was going to take pills to end his life. Hearing about the problems of the other youth in the hospital made Jordan feel that his issues were minimal and actually apologized in group for “only” suffering from depression. The hospital counselor told him that his depression was a serious issue that needed treatment just as much as the conditions of the other youth.


After he was released, Jordan experienced great guilt for doing things that in his mind disappointed his parents, both of whom are educators. He drank more and more and was caught drinking illegally twice. The final blow was when he threw a party while his parents were out of town, serving alcohol to school athletes. The party was broken up by the police, and Jordan felt he had truly hurt his parents with his behavior.


Senior year arrived, with Jordan being nominated to the homecoming court and playing golf so well that he was headed for the playoffs. His parents confronted him with two duffle bags of alcohol that were in his trunk. They were sad and disappointed.


Jordan felt terrible about letting his family down. He went to his room and jumped from his 9th floor bedroom window, fracturing his pelvis, tibia, fibula, jaw, femur and ribs and waking up after a 5 day coma with a tracheotomy tube in his throat to allow him to breath. Doctors were amazed that he had survived, but they were not optimistic about his ever walking again. Imagine being in your senior year of high school and being confined to a hospital and then a rehabilitation facility.


A reporter heard about Jordan and asked if he could write his story. Jordan insisted that the focus of the story be on mental health issues and the importance of getting help for problems no matter how young a youth is. The article was published on the front page of the newspaper, and Jordan began receiving many calls and emails thanking him for sharing his story.


Jordan attended his senior prom in a wheel chair and used a walker to receive his diploma. Today, Jordan walks on his own, but with difficulty.


See a video of Jordan's presentation at www.TeenCentral.Net

Speaking Out

Jordan has made it his mission to take his story to audiences that will benefit from hearing about his struggles. He has appeared on CNN, ESPN, “Good Morning America,” “The Doctor Phil Show,” “Good Day Philadelphia,” “The Early Show” and the Phil Eskin radio show and has nearly 1,000 of fans on Facebook. He also appeared in a documentary directed by Joe Pantoliano called “No Kidding, Me Too!” and was featured in a People Magazine article that highlighted “The Heroes Among Us.”


To Jordan, his most important role is as a speaker for Active Minds, a nonprofit that promotes the discussion of Mental Health issues through chapters on college campuses. Jordan travels the country for individual speaking engagements and is a panel member with other members of the elite group of Active Mind speakers called “The Heard.” He has had people who have heard him speak contact him to say that he helped dissuade them from suicide, a wonderful byproduct of being on the speakers’ circuit for Jordan.


And what does the future hold for Jordan Burnham? At 21, he would like to finish writing a book about his experiences this year and continue to reach to as many young people as possible with his presentations and appearances. He has been invited to appear on the Oprah show, as well. Jordan takes medication for his depression and still sees a therapist. He will eventually return to college to finish his last 2 years, but, right now, helping others is the most important job he can imagine.


KidsPeace Healing Magazine: latest issue available online

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The latest issue of KidsPeace's award-winning publication, Healing Magazine™, is now available online. Visitors to or may now read the latest articles online or download a pdf of entire the issue. The special focus of this issue is "Child Welfare Reforms," and there are several articles that both inform the reader and at the same time raise raise thought-provoking questions. Read an excerpt from this new issue:



Child Welfare and Children’s

Mental Health Services:A Decade of Transformation

By Ken Olson, LCPC, Executive Director, KidsPeace National Centers of New England


The line between “child welfare services” and “children’s mental health services” has never been particularly clear. In general, policy makers, bureaucrats and service providers all agree that there is substantial overlap among the populations of children and families that need these services. Common sense and research both tell us that children who are victims of abuse or neglect are more likely to have mental health needs than those who are not. Similarly, children with mental health problems often live in family situations that can benefit from a range of child welfare prevention and intervention programs. It might not even be too glib to say that deeming a program to be a “mental health service” or a “child welfare service” is sometimes determined as much by the nature and requirements of the funding source as anything else.

In the most recent decade, both of these have undergone significant transformations: Underlying philosophies have been questioned, and new paradigms have emerged. Providers of these services to children and adolescents have scrambled to adapt, to differentiate “fad” from “trend” and to remain true to organizational mission, vision and values. The changes have been, at times, tumultuous, with mature agencies going out of business and new agencies and new models of care growing and disappearing rapidly. Other new models have become a new standard of excellence, with long-standing providers of one service in one location adapting and diversifying into multi-service, multi-state and multi-regional providers. While there has been loss, there has also been a real opportunity to better serve children and families with new and more effective strategies and interventions. >>> Read More >>>

KidsPeace and TeenCentral.Net Visited by Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen

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On Friday, January 7, 2011, KidsPeace was fortunate to be visited by the reigning Miss PA’s Outstanding Teen, Jocelyn Gruber, and her mom, Paula. The pair braved the snow in the morning to meet with Director of TeenCentral.Net Dr. Julius Licata and tour the KidsPeace residential facilities and schools in Orefield, PA, and film Jocelyn speaking about her own teen years and the problems she has encountered before and after winning the state pageant. 


Jocelyn is a beautiful, energetic and personable young lady who is filled with the desire to bring the pageant to people everywhere in the state. She has a strong ethic and a loving, caring attitude that aims to please. For many reasons, this was a very special visit for Jocelyn, as she spent her first 10 years being raised at a facility that is similar to KidsPeace because both of her parents were counselors there. Growing up with her brothers in this environment may explain her keen understanding of kids’ problems and wisdom beyond her 17 years.


Paula Gruber is the effervescent mom who is obviously very proud of her daughter’s accomplishments and quickly informs the listener that she is equally proud of her two sons now serving in the Navy. Both graduated from Annapolis, and they are currently serving their country.  Jocelyn, who beams whenever her brothers are mentioned, echoes the closeness of this family. She is quick to let you know that her dad is her greatest fan.


Jocelyn toured Headquarters and then went for a tour of the KidsPeace Hospital where she met with staff and children. Anyone with her immediately realized that her love for the children was very strong.  She met with the youngest group and asked if they knew who she was. The answers ranged from the President to the Queen of PA, which, I guess, is not that far away from who she is or how she felt with these children. They enjoyed the visit and were able to touch her crown, ask questions and just talk to her.


Her next stop was to the Donley Education Center where she met with about 15 teens. These teens were, at first, quite reluctant to speak, but after about 5 minutes, they became totally involved and shared stories, asked questions and laughed along with this outstanding teen.


Jocelyn then returned to headquarters and to the TC.N office and spoke to teens via video camera about her life and difficulties and how you have to be ready to sacrifice for what you really want. Her message was loud and clear as she encouraged teens to go for it all.

“You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at one time.” 


Both Jocelyn and Paula plan to come back again soon to meet with more teens and to possibly film Paula for ParentCentral.Net. After a brief visit of just 4 or 5 hours, one can be assured that there is no shortage of stars in this family.


What is Miss Pennsylvania's Outstanding Teen?

The Miss America's Outstanding Teen title is earned through local, regional and then state competitions presented by this scholarship-based program that offers accomplished teens opportunities to win funds for college. Outstanding young women compete on their scholastic achievement, creative accompli

shment, healthy living and community involvement. In the past five years, the organization has awarded more than $3 million in college scholarships.  


Jocelyn earned the title of Miss Greater Johnstown Outstanding Teen and then won the competition in June to be crowned Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen. She also won the talent award for her piano performance. In August, Jocelyn was honored as one of the top 10 at the national competition for Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, winning a $1,500 scholarship.


Each competitor has a platform, and Jocelyn’s is: “A Call to Service:  Motivating Today's Youth through the United States Public Service Academy.” She hopes to encourage other teens to participate in public service. Jocelyn is a member of the National Honor Society, "Who's Who in Foreign Language," Outstanding Achievement in Foreign Languages, National Young Leaders Council and the Fast Track program at Slippery Rock University.


Julius Licata is thrilled to have Jocelyn as a supporter of TeenCentral.Net and is happy that the relationship between the Miss Pennsylvania group and TeenCentral.Net has been strong since 2002, when Autumn Marisa, the current Executive Director of Miss PA’s Outstanding Teen, was Miss Pennsylvania herself. To learn more about the program, visit



pa outstanding teen


Jocelyn visits with Executive Vice President for Business Development Michael Slack and TeenCentral.Net Director Julius Licata at KidsPeace




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