The Child Mind Institute’s 2017 Change Maker Awards celebrate individuals and organizations making real change in the lives of children who struggle with mental health and learning disorders.
Heroes are individuals or organizations seeking to raise awareness and dispel stigma, helping children and families directly, or working to transform the way we understand and treat mental health disorders.
Voting Ends on Tuesday, April 4
Presented to an organization that has worked to transform the way mental health is viewed in their community.
Select one nominee in each category
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The JED Foundation
Following the loss of their son, Jed, to suicide, Donna and Phil Satow created JED, a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.
JED partners with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs and systems. They’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. JED is encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health.
In just the past year, JED has reached more than 3,000 colleges to strengthen their student safety nets using JED’s resources. More than 1,800,000 students are matriculated in colleges that are members of the JED Campus program and JED’s mental health public service campaigns reached more than 25 million people.
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Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families by providing trustworthy information and educational resources they need to thrive in our world of media and technology.
Common Sense exists because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional and physical development. Common Sense Media provides an independent forum to families with resources and tools to enable them to have a choice and a voice about the media they consume. Over 300,000 teachers have used Common Sense’s K-12 education programs, and over 1.3 million copies of their curriculum have been downloaded. Common Sense advocates for student privacy and for expanding broadband and early childhood education access.
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Founded by parents of a child with autism, The Mighty is an online platform for publishing real stories by real people facing real challenges.
The Mighty’s mission is to combat the isolation that people feel when experiencing a disability or disease. It’s a safe platform for community members to tell their stories, connect with others and raise support for the causes they believe in. The Mighty believes that we are stronger when we face adversity together. The Mighty has partnered with over 200 nonprofit allies to deliver their excellent resources to its community. The Mighty currently has 5,000 contributors and 150 million readers.
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The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is a professional association that represents more than 25,000 school psychologists, graduate students and related professionals throughout the United States and 25 other countries.
The world’s largest organization of school psychologists, NASP works to advance effective practices to improve students’ learning, behavior and mental health. The vision of NASP is that all children and youth will thrive in school, at home and throughout life. NASP empowers school psychologists by providing educational resources, professional development, research and policy, standards and certification, as well as guidance on a broad range of topics including assessment, school safety and more. In addition, NASP advocates for advancing the role and developing the leadership skills of school psychologists.
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Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder since 1969.
Its programs deliver lessons about health, emotional well-being, and respect and understanding to help kids grow up healthy, happy and at home in their world. Active in more than 150 countries, Sesame Workshop serves kids through a wide range of media and philanthropically funded social impact programs, all grounded in rigorous research. Sesame Street’s “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” is an initiative to fight the stigma and isolation so often experienced by children with autism and their families. This is a natural extension of Sesame Street’s longstanding message: “We are all different, but the same.” As part of this campaign, Sesame Street recently introduced a new muppet, Julia – who has autism. To support the one in 68 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and their families, Sesame Street is promoting a strength-based perspective on autism, celebrating the uniqueness of all children.
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Presented to an individual seeking to raise awareness and dispel stigma, helping children and families directly, or working to transform the way we understand and treat mental health and learning disorders.
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Michelle Borgese, Family Advocate, Family Resource Center of Southern Bronx of the Mental Health Association of New York City
Michelle Borgese is a Family Advocate working at the Family Resource Center of Southern Bronx. Her work with families for the last 15+ years has resulted in many youth with mental health needs being connected to appropriate, quality, accessible services.
Michelle Borgese assists families by helping them to navigate the child-serving system and learning about resources that can effectively assist their children. As her nominator writes: “Michelle has gone above and beyond to ensure that youth receive the assessments, services and educational support they require in order to meet their personal goals. She works through a strength-based, family-driven lens that is contagious and her commitment has benefited many families.” As a parent of children with special needs herself, Michelle has utilized her personal experience to assist families, and she says her work, in turn, has helped heal her own family. “I felt alone, I felt like my child was the only one with these problems. Having that support circle was invaluable,” she said.
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Michael Cummings, MD
Associate Medical Director, Erie County Medical Center
Dr. Michael Cummings, Associate Medical Director of Erie County Medical Center, is a psychiatrist with more than 15 years’ experience and a visionary in creating innovative systems of care to prevent avoidable hospitalization or incarceration.
In addition to the inpatient unit he oversees, he serves as Medical Director of NYSTART (Region 1) and Medical Director of the Access to Psychiatry through Intermediate Care program (APIC), a mobile service he cofounded that allows providers and care coordinators to visit clients in their homes and communities. The primary goal of APIC is to reduce avoidable emergency room visits, hospitalizations, arrests, out-of-home placements and exposure to unnecessary poly-pharmacy. In its first two years, APIC has served 433 families, made over 450 “house calls” and has reduced emergency room visits by over 50%. As his nominator writes, “He has academic knowledge and administrative expertise, but what marks Dr. Cummings as exceptional is his rare ability to understand, walk alongside and guide each person and family member he meets. As the parent of a young adult with multiple disabilities and significant mental illness who moved from the NYC metro area, finding Dr. Cummings and his team truly rocked our world!”
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Peer support director and project coordinator for the Kentucky Family & Youth Movement, a program of the Kentucky Partnership for Families and Children
Barbara Greene is a parent, step-parent and grandparent of children with behavioral health issues, and she has used her experience of raising these children to help other parents facing similar challenges to get the support and skills they need.
She is a nationally certified Peer Support Specialist, trainer and coach. She is currently working as a Peer Support Director within a community mental health center and a training coordinator with the statewide family organization. Greene comes from a social justice background and brings a belief in succeeding against all odds. As her nominator wrote, “Barbara Greene’s charismatic personality attracts others and enables them to listen with their hearts instead of their ears, to meet families where they are instead of where they want them to be, and to choose acceptance instead of judgment—the ability to support true, long-lasting change!” She began by organizing a group of experienced parents and with them she created a “parenting curriculum” and training program for parents court-ordered to attend parenting classes. This vision resulted in a model program in Kentucky called the COPE House (Creating Opportunities for Parents Everywhere). As parents attended classes and got “hooked” on giving back to parents coming up behind them, Ms. Greene trained and coached these parents to become The COPE House support staff, and eventually coached them to become Family Peer Support Specialists. Her two favorite sayings are, “If you ain’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem” and “sometimes you just have to behave your way into thinking.”
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Lori Rothman is an occupational therapist who has aided thousands of families with special needs children during a career spanning over 40 years.
As her nominator writes, “She is an indefatigable, optimistic spirit who believes that everyone is capable of going the distance. Each child is a superstar in her eyes. We met Lori when our son was two and barely talking or walking. We were a devastated couple without much concrete hope. Immediately she began advocating for our son and focusing on possibilities. Before we knew it, our little guy was walking better, buttoning his shirts and most of all learning. Today our son is 14 and doing very well as he prepares for high school.” Before going into private practice, Lori worked at Creedmore Queens (NY) Children’s Psychiatric Center with severely developmentally challenged children, and at Rusk Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine (NY) in the neonatal intensive care unit. She also worked with children who had undergone brain surgery. “Lori holds onto each child she meets like they are her own,” her nominator adds. “She will not hear ‘no’ and ‘can’t.’ She believes there is always a way to make progress.” As Lori herself says, “Every one of them touches my heart and every one of them deserves a better life.”
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CEO, the Youth Mental Health Project
Randi Silverman is co-founder and CEO of the Youth Mental Health Project, which empowers families with the resources they need to support the social, emotional, mental and behavioral health of children.
The mother of a child with a mental health disorder, Randi knows firsthand the challenges these families face. As her nominator wrote: “Randi’s experience of feeling alone and isolated ignited a determination that cannot be stopped.” In 2011, Randi co-founded a local parent-to-parent support group for families raising children with mood disorders; over eight hundred families in Westchester, New York, have since been served. As a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Randi also uses her legal expertise to help parents advocate for the educational needs of their children. A believer in the power of storytelling, Randi used her experiences to co-write and produce the award winning film No Letting Go, to create conversations around the vitally important issue of youth mental health. Randi is a frequent public speaker on the topic of youth mental health, and plans to continue to share her story until society understands that mental health is as important as physical health. She also serves on the Board of Directors of The International Bipolar Foundation.