This article appeared in Palm Beach Post Notables on April 25, 2022.
As the country prepares to call attention to the rising epidemic of mental health issues during May’s National Mental Health Awareness month, the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties (CFPBMC) is collaborating to address the issue locally with children and teens.
Teaming up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and Florida State University (FSU), the CFPBMC will lead an effort to tackle the pandemic-aggravated mental health challenges of local children and teens with FSU’s new program entitled “Rebound and Recovery.”
“Across the globe, the pandemic has caused mental health strains for many, especially for children and adolescents,” said Julie Fisher Cummings, chair of the board of directors for the CFPBMC. “The collaboration among philanthropists, community organizations and a flagship state research university shows how organizations like these can come together to address a pressing need which has been exacerbated by the pandemic – youth mental health.”
The CFPBMC is underwriting the evidence-informed “Rebound and Recovery” program, which uses a cognitive-based therapy model to help children and teens gain the social and emotional tools needed to deal with the traumatic side-effects of the pandemic. The program educates young people about their emotions and connecting their thoughts, feelings and actions.
Working with FSU’s College of Social Work and its Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families and Children, “Rebound and Recovery” will focus on children ages 4-17. FSU faculty and graduate students will implement the programs throughout 14 locations of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.
The FSU center was started with a gift from the Delray Beach-based Stoops Family Foundation, which was created by Aggie and Jeff Stoops. Both are two-time FSU graduates. Aggie earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. She’s the board chair for the Stoops Family Foundation, which focuses on medical, social services, educational and children’s causes.
“Once we develop the new curriculum and pilot it with the Boys & Girls Clubs, we’ll be able to share it with others in the county, across the state and beyond,” said Jeff Stoops, member of the board of directors for CFPBMC, who along with Aggie, made a significant donation to bring the project to Palm Beach County. “Working together within this unique collaboration, we hope to build a program that is scalable and can have a real life-long impact on the mental health of our youth.”
The program stems from work FSU did in Bay County after Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm that devasted the Florida Panhandle in 2018. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, they piloted “Rebound and Recovery” at The Learning Pavilion in Tallahassee, a childcare facility serving preschoolers. With the help of this new partnership, the FSU center is expanding the program to include a new curriculum targeting teens in Palm Beach County.
Along with the Stoops, CFPBMC board chair Julie Fisher Cummings and fellow board member Christina Macfarland and her husband, Benjamin, are supporting the Palm Beach County initiative.
“The ‘Rebound and Recovery’ program will teach our young people new skills and strategies to deal with their fears and anxieties,” said Mrs. Macfarland. “They’ll acquire skills that they can use throughout their educational journeys, in facing challenges with familial relationships and with friends now and far into the future.”
“The pandemic has laid bare a collective vulnerability around mental health, which is especially poignant in our underserved communities,” said Danita DeHaney Nias, CFPBMC President & CEO. “The generosity of our board members can help us find and implement solutions that reach the greatest number of those in need. We hope their gifts will motivate others to join our efforts so we can expand this program to other nonprofits that have a similar infrastructure to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.”
The CFPBMC has provided nearly $200 million in grants and scholarships over its 50-year history. For more information or to support the Rebound and Recovery program, reach Mary Katherine Morales at 561-659-6800 or visit yourcommunityfoundation.org.