NFL player Benjamin Watson speaks out on Ferguson

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Network faithful are encouraged to give a read to the post by New Orleans Saints football player Benjamin Watson who reflects on the events in Ferguson, Missouri. The post has quickly gone viral.

"At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I'M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I'M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I'M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I'm a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a "threat" to those who don't know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I'M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I'M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I'M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I'M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I've seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I'M CONFUSED, because I don't know why it's so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don't know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I'M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take "our" side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it's us against them. Sometimes I'm just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that's not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That's not right.

I'M HOPELESS, because I've lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I'm not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I'M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it's a beautiful thing.

I'M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It's the Gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope."

New grants available for helping disconnected youth

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The Obama administration is now accepting applications for a small pilot program aiming to boost outcomes for homeless youth in the juvenile justice system or facing other similar challenges. The Performance Partnership Pilots (P3) program, authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, Division H, Section 526 (the Act), will enable up to ten pilot sites to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies to achieve significant improvements in educational, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth using new flexibility to blend existing Federal funds and to seek waivers of associated program requirements. P3 pilots will receive start-up grants to support ongoing planning, streamlined governance, strengthened data infrastructure, improved coordination, and related activities to help pilots improve outcomes for disconnected youth.

  • Applications are due by March 4, 2015
  • More information and details about the application process can be found here.

Engaging youth and young adults through social media

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Social media continues to be an important tool for youth and young adults to connect with the world and with each other. Join this Pathways RTC webinar to get the latest research and statistics on how youth and young adults are using social media, and how your organization can strategically use social media to engage with youth and young adults. Learn what platforms youth and young adults are using and how you can create a simple social media strategy to more effectively reach this audience. 

About the Presenter:
brittanyBrittany Smith lives in Portland, Oregon but works with people and organizations all across the country. She began her career in the non-profit sector as a community manager and mental health advocate. She has worked for many non-profits including Children First for Oregon, DiversityRx, The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, and the Children’s Mental Health Network. While working in the non-profit sector Brittany discovered a passion for social media and social change and began providing social media training and technical assistance to system of care communities, government agencies, and other non-profits at the Children’s Mental Health Network. To focus more on social media she started Build Social, LLC in August of 2012 and is enjoying the adventure of owning a small business.

How autism freed me to be myself

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When she was nine years old, doctors confirmed Rosie King’s self-diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. With two younger siblings severely affected by autism, Rosie had a burning desire to help make the world a more tolerant place for people with autism ever since she was a young girl. She found the opportunity to do so when her family was invited to do a local news segment on her mother’s children’s books that featured Rosie’s illustrations. Her lack of inhibition made her a natural presenter, and she was asked to host BBC Newsround’s special program “My Autism and Me,” bringing her a much wider audience and an Emmy Kid’s Award. Rosie continues to raise awareness about autism, and is working towards her goal of becoming a professional actress and storyteller.

The Art of Yoga Project

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Network faithful take note of this innovative program focused on incarcerated adolescent girls in Palo Alto California.

Because incarcerated teen girls warrant age-appropriate, gender-specific and culturally sensitive rehabilitative services, The Art of Yoga Project has developed an innovative gender-responsive intervention that combines yoga and creative art.

The Art of Yoga Project’s focus on yoga gives young women safe ways to push limits and test boundaries. It helps balance the intense hormones and powerful emotions of adolescence, offering healthy alternatives to violence, self-harm and substance use. The program builds trust in a circle of supportive peers and women elders, which is especially effective for young women with histories of physical and emotional abuse.

Youth leaders meet in Seattle, WA to honor National Recovery month

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CMHNetwork report from the field ~ Alicia Frometa, with video contribution from Youth N Action in Seattle, Washington



Tamara Johnson, Youth N Action Program Manager, works out of a 40 story building in downtown Seattle, but she is rarely there. She spends most of her days advocating for youth by acquiring funding to create space for system involved youth to gain concrete leadership skills. She employs them to plan mental health awareness events, lead engaging mental health focused community forums, and execute stigma reduction activities through project based work.

During the week of September 14-18th, 2014, System of Care youth leaders ages 15-20 from regions across Washington State gathered to collaborate in original artistic creations in honor of National Recovery month in September. The collected artwork was to be shared through online connections as well as at local schools, mental health agencies and drug and alcohol treatment centers. These visuals would be posted as motivating messages in community agencies that share resources, teach hope, provide help and wraparound. A daunting outreach task that will be shared by Jessica Bayne and Lorrin Ghering of the Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery.

Eastern Washington Youth Leadership Adventure; Recovery and Advocacy through Arts and Forum Theatre commenced with praises for Youth for Community Growth youth team (Y.C.G TREE Yakima) who were the designated planning committee whom also assisted to finalize all things leading up to the event.

Y.C.G. youth members were congratulated by sponsors and supporters present on the first day of the event to include Andrea Parrish, the adventurous System of Care Manager, from the Department of Social and Human Services in Olympia and Carrie Huie Pascua, the dedicated Project Director for Yakima Valley System of Care.

The four-day leadership event program opened up to the sounds of Brittany Davis, a remarkable visually impaired young lady, camera’s flashed, while she translated the lively melodies of hip hop from the inner chambers of her mind to her free flowing fingers dancing across the keyboard for everyone’s delight.

Tamara, brought in other advocates for youth such as; Brian McCracken, (Youth N Action) Poet and Youth Program Coordinator, Lorrin Gehring, Youth Engagement Specialist (Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery) Also in company was Alicia Frometa, Poet and Youth Voice Coordinator (Your Voice Creative Writing) and Jordan Chaney, Poet and Author (Urban Poets Society).

Notable activities like; the Pongo Teen Writing Story in which participants used the pongo curriculum to build a poem was as a Youth N Action leader, Elizabeth Jetton described,” personal and inspiring.” Many of the 30 young leaders present gathered in a circle at sunset, surrounded by lighted torches as their peers snapped their fingers in harmonious agreement. They spoke and told their transformative real life stories in blurbs of rhyme, poetry, and prose.

This leadership event is one that Tamara Johnson would like to expand on for 2015.These types of high energy, high intensity, arts-infused events are not done every day. The experience that is embedded into the hearts and spirits of the youth is positively life altering. The youth’s Forum Theatre Adventure was led by facilitators Tim McLeod, Forum Theatre Specialist and Community Health Educator for Planned Parenthood and co-facilitator Ted Ryle Forum Theatre Specialist and Clinical Training Administrator for the Department of Juvenile Justice Rehabilitation Administration.

To receive a clearer picture of what Forum Theatre is just click the video one more time. 

NIH Request for nominations for the Tribal Consultation Advisory Committee

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The NIH Tribal Consultation Advisory Committee (TCAC) will provide a venue for tribal representatives and NIH staff to exchange information about NIH research policies and program priorities. NIH seeks nominations for 17 TCAC members: 12 area representatives and 5 national at-large members. The deadline for nomination is November 28, 2014.

Choices posting vacancy announcement for Clinical Director

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Job announcement:

Choices, Inc. is looking for a Clinical Director for the Maryland (Shore) area

The Clinical Director manages the day-to-day clinical supervision and operation of specific programs for Choices. The incumbent will provide ongoing consultation to clinical staff and will ensure a strong clinical presence onsite and in the community. The Clinical Director represents and advocates for the staff and clientele to the community, funding bodies, policy makers and the broader public, and they may assist in the development of provider networks and coordinate services with community entities.


  • Minimum of master’s degree in social work, psychology, marriage and family therapy, or related human services field.
  • Current licensure by the state(s) in which work is assigned as Clinical Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapist, Mental Health Counselor or similar.
  • Minimum of five years of clinical and managerial experience in community-based behavioral health and human services with children/families.
  • Significant supervisory experience that promotes leadership and initiative in line staff, successful team building, consensus building, conflict resolution, staff development and advocacy.
  • Demonstrated competence in providing to and creating services for culturally diverse populations.
  • Expertise in strength-based programming, crisis intervention, family systems theory, multi-systems care coordination and case management
  • Demonstrated skill in fiscal management activities, team building and development.
  • Strong communication and writing skills. Bilingual skills (especially Spanish) a plus.
  • Be certified in the CANS within 45 days of hire and at all times beyond the first 45 days of employment. CANS SuperUser status highly desirable.
  • Must possess a valid driver’s license in state of residence and auto insurance.

The Clinical Director position is located in Maryland (service the Shore region) and is a full-time, salaried position.

  • Those interested, please email cover letter and resume to Jody Levison-Johnson, Executive Director, MD DC Choices at
  • Resumes will be accepted for this position through Monday, December 8, 2014. EOE.

New online tool focused on trauma informed care

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The Georgetown University, National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health and JBS International, Inc. recently completed a new free online tool entitled, Trauma Informed Care: Perspectives and Resources. The tool aims to support state and local decision-makers, administrators, providers, parents, and youth and family advocates to become more trauma informed. It includes video interviews, issue briefs, key resources and links that will be updated monthly to keep up with new developments in the field.

  • This FREE tool is now live and available for your use.
  • Warning - This resource is highly engaging, comprehensive and adaptable to a wide range of audiences. Users should plan on immersing themselves in some pretty remarkable content. Kick your shoes off and stay awhile - it is that good!
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