During last week’s “Mental Health
Matters!” advocacy day at the New York State Capitol, students
and staff from the Pathways program had the chance to tell their
stories and advocate for changes to the way mental health
services for teens and others are provided in the state.
Pictured above are Lorraine McMullin, left, of the Mental Health Association of New York State, one of the groups that sponsored the advocacy day on March 14, and her son Brett, right, who attends the Pathways program. Lorraine McMullen helped coordinate the Pathways visit to "Mental Health Matters!"
Students tell their stories, advocate for mental health services in NYS
High school students from the Capital Region BOCES Pathways Program recently spent a day at the state Capitol giving back to their community and voicing support for mental health issues that affect each of them.
The March 14 "Mental Health Matters!" advocacy day at the state Capitol, which was sponsored by the Mental Health Association of New York State and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is one of many Project G.I.V.E community-based experiences the Pathways students have taken part in this school year.
Project G.I.V.E., which was designed by Pathways teachers Rose Gigliello and John Fitzpatrick along with principal Carol d'Estienne, is a social-emotional learning project that received Capital Region BOCES mini-grant funding. The goal of the project is to help the students in the Pathways program (a collaborative between Capital Region BOCES and the New York State Office of Mental Health that serves adolescents with acute mental health issues) develop a greater sense of self and give back to their community.
Since the start of the school year, students have volunteered their time with groups in Cohoes, where the Pathways program is located, such as the Ronald McDonald house and local churches. Recently, the students and Pathways staff visited the Loudonville Adult Home where they spent time with the residents. They will also help with a spring clean-up of the school grounds at Page Avenue School.
While each of the Project G.I.V.E. experiences has been a meaningful learning experience, the trip to the state Capitol was significant for students because of its relevance in their own lives.
“Attending this advocacy day at the state Capitol was a cathartic experience for everyone,” said Fitzpatrick. “For the students to have the opportunity to tell their stories and be heard by representatives at the state level who make the decisions and laws that directly affect their lives was a very powerful thing.”
“The primary goal of Project G.I.V.E. is to provide the students with opportunities to give back to their community,” Fitzpatrick continued. “Being part of a group of hundreds of other people that attended 'Mental Health Matters!' allowed the students to reach out to a larger community and become the voice for those who may not have this opportunity and ability to advocate for themselves.”
“Another truly great aspect of our visit was that the students had the chance to meet with staff from Sen. Neil Breslin’s (D-Delmar) office, tell their stories and advocate for changes to the way mental health services for teens and others are provided in the state.”
Please read this week's I Am BOCES profile by following this link for more information on this program and those who are part of it.