LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has declared a national state of emergency in children's mental health. As a result, the Ohio non-profit, Prevention Action Alliance, is launching a new pilot program that could impact students in Lucas County.
It's no secret the pandemic has hit students hard, creating more stress and anxiety. The new program, Prevention and Wellness Academy of Ohio, is designed to implement prevention and wellness strategies to benefit the students in our area. The program is designed to help students not just academically, but in all aspects of life.
Prevention Action Alliance provides resources, education and professional development throughout the state about substance misuse and mental health wellness.
Officials looked at counties across Ohio and determined 10 of them would best benefit from this program, based on the CDC's social vulnerability index. Lucas County was one of them.
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The program manager for youth and young adult services, Julianna Fellows, said Lucas County was selected because of the needs of the community. They evaluated things like poverty, access to resources and housing.
"I know that is a very community-based view, but schools are in a community and anything that goes on in a school impacts that community so greatly," she said.
Fellows explained educators have recognized the missed opportunities young students have faced because of the pandemic through their behaviors and stress levels. She said while risk-taking behaviors aren't necessarily intentional right now within young students, this program will implement strategies to make sure they never becomes intentional.
"Sixth-graders aren't going out and seeking risk-taking behaviors because they're stressed," explained Fellows. "They're just stressed. So, we want to get ahead of that as they age up."
She said they will provide only five school districts with this program, so its presence in Lucas County isn't definite. School districts in eligible counties can apply before October 3.
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