KidsPeace National Centers of Georgia is very lucky to employee a dedicated group of staff members who are committed to improving the lives of the children they serve. One associate was recognized by the community for her passionate work on behalf of Georgia's children -- LaShann Pruitt, Education Mobile Support Staff Member for the KidsPeace of Georgia school, received the "Spirit Award for Education" from Carroll County at a special award luncheon on October 15. She designed a program for the KidsPeace of Georgia students called "Work it Out ... Step it Up!" which offers children who attend the KidsPeace school incentives to exhibit appropriate behavior in a team environment. Classes earn points for having fewer "timeouts" than other classes, and each member of the class is rewarded for the group's good behavior. There are also rewards for good grades.
LaShann designs visual tracking methods each school year to help the children see where they place versus the other classes. There have been boat and car "races" that move along their courses carrying classroom names toward the finish lines. LaShann also organizes fundraisers, assemblies and holiday celebrations, and she recruits her parents to help out. She and her mother can bee seen buying and wrapping carts full of toys and gifts for all of the students before Christmas, and they happily put names on shirts and blankets that are presented to the students. LaShann's father also helps out with many of the efforts she devises to bring smiles to the faces of the children.
According to LaShann, she works so hard at KidsPeace because she "wants to make a difference in the children's lives. If I can teach one kid a de-escalation skill, and that child can honestly say he 'worked it out,' that's an amazing feeling." LaShann describes her sense of accomplishment in her job as joyful and exciting, and she strives to always think outside the box for creative ideas make the children happy.
Congratulations to LaShann from all of KidsPeace. We are very proud that her good work is recognized not only by her associates at KidsPeace of GA, but also by the community in which she lives and works. Carroll County made a wonderful choice for recipient of this year's Spirit Award.
On October 11, Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 race in Fontana, CA. Jimmie has been having a great season, and perhaps his good works have something to do with it. During the October 12 race, Jimmie wore his Helmet of Hope, which bore logos from 12 charities to which the Jimmie Johnson Foundation had donated grants. KidsPeace had a prominent place on that helmet, and the associated grant was presented to the KidsPeace Foster Care and Community Program office in Raleigh, NC. In addition to the $1,048 grant, the 12 beneficiaries of the foundation will also share the proceeds from the sale of tee shirts bearing all of the logos. These tee shirts are available on Jimmie's website www.jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org for $10. KidsPeace greatly appreciates Jimmie's generosity and congratulates him on his win at the Banking 500 on October 17 in Charlotte.
As cold and windy as it was, the senior leadership of KidsPeace donned jeans and sweatshirts on Monday and held a car wash to kick off the organization's United Way Campaign in the Lehigh Valley. President and CEO Will Isemann; Executive Vice Presidents Michael Slack and Tim Richards; Vice Presidents Grace Fornicola, Mark Stubis, Susan Mullen, Kevin Burgess and Sue Leyburn; Medical Director Herb Mandell; and Director Eileen Tkacik worked from 11:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m. washing KidsPeace associates' cars and having what appeared to be a wonderful time. Volunteers cooked hot dogs and served lunch, sold tickets to a silent auction, and ran a chipping contest for experienced and novice golfers. The event raised more than $800, which will be split between the United Way and the KidsPeace Children's Fund.
"The local United Way campaign is so important to the Lehigh Valley," said Will Isemann, "that the senior associates of KidsPeace wanted to do their part to emphasize our commitment to this worthy cause. We also wanted to help support the KidsPeace Children's fund because every dollar donated goes directly to helping the children in our care." Isemann went on to thank all of the volunteers who supported the car-washing crew and the associates who used their lunch breaks to get their cars washed.
KidsPeace, a major provider of foster care services across the country, is holding an open house and training opportunity to introduce its newest foster care office in Alexandria, Virginia. On Thursday, October 29, from 9:00 a.m. until noon, KidsPeace Northern Virginia foster care associates and corporate leadership will be on hand to meet referral agency staff, potential foster parents, community leaders and anyone who is interested in what we offer to Northern Virginia in terms of foster care options.
In addition to the opportunity to learn more about KidsPeace foster care and network with professionals in the field, we will also be presenting a guest speaker, Antonia Arias, a former foster child. She will discuss "Experiences and Strengths - Overcoming the System," which will provide valuable insight into how the foster care system influences children and directs their futures.
The address is 5100 Leesburg Pike, Suite 302, Alexandria, VA 22303. Coffee and light refreshments will be served. Our associates are eager to meet with the foster care professional community and reach out to community members who may be considering becoming foster parents. For directions or more information, please call 571.403.9260.
In the afternoon, KidsPeace Foster Care of Northern Virginia is pleased to be presenting a FREE training to our organization's partners and community members in Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William Counties, as well as Alexandria City. From 1:00 p.m until 5:00 p.m., Pat O'Brien, founder of the successful adoption agency "You Gotta Believe," will be covering such topics as Recruitment strategies for finding adoptive families for older teams, Preparing families to take teens and deal with difficult behaviors, services and supports necessary for families to ensure successful outcomes and how to reduce the number of families that return children during times of crisis and stress. He has a great reputation for finding adoptive homes for teens and presents nationally and also appears on local radio and television weekly. This training will take place at the Woodrow Wilson Library, 6101 Knollwood Drive, Falls Church, VA 22041. Please contact Alana Marino at 410.964.9329 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place in this popular training session.
On National Depression Screening Day, October 8
National Crisis Group Offers 10 Tips on Spotting Depression in Children
Between 17 and 20 million Americans are
affected by depression each year, but even as thousands of sites across
the nation are gearing up to screen people and educate them about the
condition on National Depression Screening Day (October 8), experts are
warning America not to forget a largely overlooked part of our
In the face of the highly publicized pressures kids face today and a
doubling of the suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-olds in just 10
years, children’s experts are warning that it is time to take
depression in children seriously.
“Many people don’t expect that children, especially very young ones –
five, six, or seven years old – can be depressed,” says Dr. Herbert
Mandell, medical director of the 127-year-old national children’s
crisis charity KidsPeace and the KidsPeace Children’s Hospital in
Orefield, Pennsylvania. “In addition, people rarely spot depression in
children because kids often don’t show all the same, more familiar
signs and symptoms we see in adolescents and adults.”
To help parents, teachers, and others, KidsPeace has put together ten
tips on some of the more commonly seen signs of depression in children:
These tips, which are also available at www.kidspeace.org , include:
1. DEPRESSED CHILDREN DON’T ALWAYS “LOOK” DEPRESSED
One of the problems with identifying depression in young children is that they
don’t always show depression in the way older people do. Instead of looking
visibly “sad” and “depressed,” as adolescents and adults often do, young children
sometimes show little sign outwardly, but will instead manifest it behaviorally.
Any new pattern of angry outbursts, disciplinary problems in school, and aggressive or
negative behavior, including looking or acting bored, especially if kids don’t have a past
history of such behaviors, calls for closer attention.
2. SLEEP CHANGES.
In adults, this may be trouble sleeping. In children and younger teens, there may
be an overabundance of sleep, withdrawing and sleeping after school, or refusing
to get out of bed. In older adolescents, you’re more likely to see patterns of
trouble falling asleep and early morning awakening.
3. APPETITE CHANGES.
Significant weight loss or gain (as much as 25 pounds) one way or the
other in a few months. Although it can vary, it is typical of older
teens to lose weight, while younger children and young teens may gain
4. IRREGULARITY OF BOWEL MOVEMENTS.
Withholding or accidents in children normally old enough to control their bowel movements.
5. SCHOOL PROBLEMS.
Sudden negative changes in youngsters’ interest or performance,
including a drop in grades, disciplinary problems, lack of completing
6. EXTENDED NEGATIVE REACTION TO CRISES.
A reaction more severe and longer than would normally be expected
following a death, divorce, a move to a new school, etc. Typically,
children can adapt to these stressors within several weeks to, in the
case of a death, up to a year.
7. LOSS OF INTEREST IN OLD PLEASURES.
The child loses interest and pleasure in activities that were previously a source of
8. CHANGE OF FRIENDS AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR
The child gives up old friends and there may be a shift in the type of
friends with whom the child spends time to a group perceived as less
desirable by parents.
9. EXPRESSING A SENSE OF HOPELESSNESS.
Listen well to children when they express a sense of hopelessness. Take
seriously young children and teens if they verbalize that they have no
hope for the future. Expressing feelings of hopelessness may precede a
10. PHYSICAL COMPLAINTS.
Children may complain of stomachaches or headaches. These complaints
may be accompanied by a withdrawal from typical activities, social
life, and a refusal to go to school. These complaints are cause for
concern and should be explored.
Older children and adolescents tend to be more similar to adults when
depressed, with symptoms that are more familiar to the general public:
Withdrawal, fatigue, irritability, loss of concentration,, greater
interest in morbid themes, and loss of interest in good hygiene, along
with signs listed above.
“It is not unusual for adolescents to go through periods of being sad
or down,” says KidsPeace President & CEO William Isemann. “In fact,
it is pretty normal. However, it is important to realize that
depression is serious, and some of these symptoms you may think are
depression may be signs of other issues, including medical problems.”
How to Take Action
When symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks, or if there is
more than one, it is time to take action. Check the signs of childhood
depression at www.kidspeace.org , talk to your family doctor and get
help. Be sure to touch base with your child’s school to share
information, as well. Best of all, to make sure you are protecting your
children, talk to your kids on an ongoing basis so that you know what
is normal for your kids and what is not. If you suspect a problem, you
can find a National Depression Screening Day center near you by going
to the website www.mentalhealthscreening.org .
A resource for kids facing depression and other issues: TeenCentral.Net
One free resource to help children themselves is an innovative website,
TeenCentral.Net, created by KidsPeace with the help and support of the
nation’s leading child experts at Harvard and Brown. TeenCentral.Net
gives kids clinically screened help and advice, assisting kids to
identify and work through problems before they become overwhelming.
National Depression Screening Day
National Depression Screening Day is held each year and is designed to
call attention to the illnesses of depression on a national level. The
week helps educate the public about symptoms and effective treatment,
offers individuals the opportunity to be screened for the disorders,
and can help connect those in need of treatment to the mental health
care system. For a site near you, go to www.mentalhealthscreening.org .
KidsPeace is a 127-year-old national charity dedicated to giving help,
hope and healing to America’s children facing crisis. Founded in
Bethlehem, Pa., this organization directly helps thousands of children
a day at more than 50 centers around the country to overcome the crises
of growing up. KidsPeace helps millions more each year through
educational outreach and awareness programs designed to help America’s
kids and parents anticipate, intervene in and master crises that can
affect any child – from disasters and personal traumas to family issues
and neglect to life-threatening depression, eating disorders, and the
many stresses of modern life. KidsPeace recently won a Gold Seal of
Approval from the Joint Commission, was named “The Outstanding
Organization” of its kind in the country by the American Association of
Psychiatric Services for Children, and was called “a prototype of what
we need for all children everywhere” by the late, nationally renowned
child and family expert, Dr. Lee Salk.
KidsPeace was born in the
Lehigh Valley more than 127 years ago as the Children’s Home of South Bethlehem
as a charity that served as home to children whose parents had succumbed to a
Smallpox epidemic. In 1943 the name became Wiley House. Over the years, the
non-profit organization introduced new services such as foster care, day
treatment, specialized schools and expanded to other states. With residential
centers in Maine, Minnesota and Georgia and foster care offices across the
country, KidsPeace has remained firmly rooted in the Lehigh Valley. In 1992,
leadership decided to change the name to KidsPeace, a brand name that could be
easily recognized around the country. We remain a private charitable
organization that was never purchased by a large, impersonal corporation. We were as important a part of the
community in 1882 as we are today.
The sense of community is
very strong within KidsPeace. Our associates live in the Lehigh Valley, and the
majority of the children we treat in PA our from local areas. We volunteer to
participate in walks for such causes as autism, ALS, autism and suicide
awareness, raising money for local charities through our efforts. Our
counselors instill a sense of giving back to the community in all of our
programs, taking them to help out with local food banks, book sales, church
programs, fundraisers for individuals in need, cleaning up public areas and
carrying parcels or discarded computers or other large pieces during town cleanup
days. The children make gifts and cards for military members stationed abroad,
visit with the elderly to brighten their days and entertain community members
with choirs, dance teams and theatrical performances.
The KidsPeace leadership
participates in the community to assist legislators draft bills and discuss
issues that are important to all children in Pennsylvania. Our associates speak
at meetings and events of importance to educators, parents and children, and
our emergency response team volunteers to counsel school children who have
suffered a trauma such as an accident that has killed a fellow student or an
act of violence that raises fear in children in teens.
Our annual soccer
tournament brings more than 4,000 players, families and spectators to the
Lehigh Valley for a weekend in August, offering great competitive sport. The
event also contributes to the economy of the area while raising funds for the
KidsPeace children. Many of our events are open to the public including our
KidsPeace Auxiliary Fashion Show, golf tournament, sporting clays day, autumn
ball and trainings. We publish a free award-winning publication called Healing
Magazine, which is released to
readers twice year. Our free website, www.TeenCentral.Net
is a wonderful anonymous source of advice from Master’s level counselors to
teens who have nowhere to turn and appreciate a safe place to “log on and work
it out.” TeenCentral.Net also provides visitors with news, celebrity stories,
obesity advice and recommended books.
What we Do
KidsPeace is headquartered
in Schnecksville, PA, and our largest campus is located across Route 309 on 255
acres of peaceful, wooded land that provides the children in our care with
space to play, explore and enjoy a beautiful natural setting. This beautiful
spot has become a vital location in the Lehigh Valley where neighbors and
friends visit to use the Olympic sized swimming pool, compete in our annual
soccer tournaments and attend fundraisers and celebrations of our efforts to
provide top services to our children.
The children we serve at
KidsPeace in the Lehigh Valley on both our Orchard Hills Campus and Broadway
Campus in Bethlehem are your neighbors, your children’s classmates, members of
your church and friends who have hit a rough patch and need some time in one of
our many programs to help them get back on track and deal with their issues
with the assistance of highly trained professionals. Our Orchard Hills Campus
is unique in the fact that we operate a 72 bed children’s psychiatric hospital
on the grounds that can accommodate the most acute mental health, behavior or
emotional issues and then place the child in a residential program to finish
the healing process. We also offer an array of community-based services around
the Lehigh Valley that work with children and their families to avoid
residential services or as step down from residential.
In Berks County, PA,
KidsPeace also has a campus that provides regular and special education as sell
as three levels of partial hospitalization that provide treatment as well as
classroom work that allows the children to keep up with their local school
work. The Berks Campus boasts an organic garden and a vermicomposting project
that recycles paper and food waste and composts it into rich soil for the
vegetable and flower gardens, which prove very therapeutic for the children who
work the beds.
KidsPeace has some 50
foster care and community programs (FCCP) around the country. Our associates
carefully match children and foster families to ensure a good fit and reduce
the number of placements in additional foster homes for the children whose
original placements do not work out. Our Pennsylvania offices also work with
the State adoption agency SWAN, as well as other agencies that arrange for
international adoptions. Visit http://www.kidspeace.org/Foster.aspx
for more information on our foster care and adoption services.
Education is a large part
of our work in the Lehigh Valley, and we have regular and special education
classrooms on the Orchard Hills and Bethlehem campuses for residential students
and children who attend partial hospitalization programs or who require
specialized classrooms with low student to teacher ratios.
KidsPeace is also a large
employer in the Lehigh Valley, and our associates live and shop and enjoy
themselves here. The organization supports the local economy by purchasing
local goods and utilizing local businesses to supply our campuses. We purchase
many of our consumables right here in the Lehigh Valley as well.
The next time you pass a
sign for KidsPeace or see one of vans transporting children around the Lehigh
Valley, think of us as a good neighbor and understand that our commitment and
ties to the children and families of the Lehigh Valley are strong and deeply
The next issue of KidsPeace's award-winning publication, Healing Magazine, is dedicating its upcoming issue to the subject of Autism. "With the number of diagnoses increasing dramatically, the need for accurate information and sound options for parents and professionals who serve children is critical," according to KidsPeace President and CEO Will Isemann. "We have received contributions from experts in the field of autism who are eager to share their knowledge and expertise with our readers."
Among the articles appearing in this issue are two by Ellen Notbohm, a parent of an autistic son who has shared her point of view in several popular books on Austism that are directed to parents and educators. William Stillman, a well recognized author and advocate for the Autistic, provides readers with insights into the Autisms we all share. There are articles by staff members of Autism Speaks and and the Dan Marino Autism Institute, as well as a discussion of an innovative residential program for Autistic children in Maine. One mental health professional discusses her passion for working with Autistic children, and another describes the wonderful land he develops for children who have Aperger's and attend a summer camp that offers fun and social skills practice to children who are on the Autism Spectrum.
Healing Magazine is a free publication that is offered twice a year to inform, educate and bring understanding to mental health professionals, educators and parents on topics of vital interest to the readers. This issue will be distributed in November. If you would like to join the Healing Magazine mailing list, please click here.
October 22 will be an exciting evening for KidsPeace children in the KidsHope Program on the Orchard Hills Campus in Orefield, PA. From 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m, they will be operating their very own Italian Restaurant in the Northwest unit of the KidsPeace Psychiatric Hospital. This will be the third year the children have held this event to raise money for their annual Christmas trip. What is so special about this dinner is that it is also a teaching tool for these teenage boys who have mental health issues and full scale IQs of 50-70. Guided by their counselors, the youth plan the meal, shop for the supplies, cook the food, set the tables, and serve the meals to the associates who attend. Some prepare carry-out orders for those who are taking the dinners home. The meal will consist of a salad, entree and dessert. The boys will also clean up after the dinner is over.
According to Child Care Counselor John Brennan, this annual fundraiser is also an important lesson in life skills. "The boys are in charge of the whole event. They have to plan the menu, purchase the right amount of food, follow recipes to prepare the meals, set the tables and make them look attractive, serve the associates who attend, make change when patrons pay, be friendly and welcoming and then clean up the dining area and leave it in the state they found it. These skills will certainly help them when they get older and may even turn into career paths for them once they become independent."
The dinners will cost $7.50 per person. Once the boys have paid for the supplies they used, they will use their profits to take a trip to New York City to see the lights and decorations at Christmas time. "These dinners have become more popular each year," John says. "The kids really enjoy it and can see how their hard work pays off in a fun reward. They also get to meet KidsPeace leadership and associates from other programs and practice their social skills, so it is a pleasurable and educational experience for all."