Local Non-Profit Uses Lorain County COVID-19 Response Fund to curve pending youth mental health crisis

The longer-term mental health consequences of COVID-19 for the population will be significant and intervention must be a priority.

As a past pediatric intensive care unit nurse, Founder and Executive Director of Northeast Ohio nonprofit Effective Leadership Academy (ELA) Flo Brett recognizes the emerging health crisis. “A special focus needs to be on our younger generation,” said Brett. “The COVID-19 pandemic is intersecting with the current rising mental health issues in our youth and we will be experiencing the fallout of this pandemic over the coming months and years. We must act now.”

Given that schools provide structure and support services for students who are struggling, the resulting school closures have created barriers and limitations for assisting students in need. Adding to student isolation is the enforced social and physical distancing and the potential for additional stressors, such as family job losses, possible health challenges, and interrupted food supply. Many of our youth are dealing with unsurmountable levels of stress and underdeveloped coping skills that they need to survive during this crisis. Research shows that young people need social-emotional learning (SEL) skills now more than ever, as they adjust to a very different and uncertain world.

With students’ lives and learning environments upended, the generous philanthropic community in Lorain County has created an opportunity for ELA to offer all Lorain County public schools free online social and emotional learning (SEL) programming to support students and schools during this time. “With over 25,000 alumni, ELA’s mission and curriculum is perfectly aligned to assist our youth and school partners in enhancing students’ social and emotional skills to learn strategies for embracing change and adjusting to unpredictable circumstances,” said Brett.

In response to COVID-19 and with the support of the Lorain County COVID-19 Response Fund, ELA has quickly transformed its nationally-recognized, award-winning SEL programming to develop an online learning experience that offers a lifetime of benefits. These programs teach essential SEL and self-leadership skills, empowering youth to develop resiliency and growth mindsets. Programs are available for 5-6 , 7-8 and 9-12 grade students to access from home, in partnership with their school districts.

North Ridgeville Assistant Superintendent Keith Ahearn said, “ELA’s partnership is supporting our students during this unprecedented time, providing them with the tools to steer themselves in the right direction to make healthy decisions, be mindful and embrace their inner strength. This is paramount in helping our district focus on the development of the whole child to ensure their success.”

ELA’s ongoing partnership is expanding in North Ridgeville from impacting 100 high school student leaders early this Spring, to now bringing the online program to support middle school students learning from home.

In another part of the county, ELA has been providing self-development and leadership skills to all Firelands Local School District 6th grade students for the last two years, assisting them to make the successful transitions from elementary to middle school.

“When ELA informed us of the generous philanthropic funding to support our students social and emotional health, we were on board,” said Firelands Local School District Director of Educational Services Lori Roemer. “ELA provides our students with the foundation for success. Collaborating with ELA to personalize the model to blend with our school culture and collaborate with our educators has been exemplary and an opportunity we could not afford to miss. We are so grateful to our Lorain County philanthropic partners,”

“Social and emotional support is a ‘basic need’ right now,” said Heather Lee, ELA’s Director of Operations and a Lorain County resident. “We want to expand to provide support to all of our Lorain County school partners. We look forward to aiding in diminishing the impact of this pandemic on our future leaders through our online programming and our virtual summer camp experience. We know this is a difficult time for schools and and we look forward to hearing from more of the local school districts soon, they should call 216 292 8775 or email [email protected] for more information.”

About Effective Leadership Academy | 25,000+ Alumni Can’t Be Wrong

ELA’s mission is to help young people develop their most valuable asset – themselves. ELA is a non-profit offering programs focused on leadership and social-emotional success skills, highlighting the importance of keeping an open mind, thinking outside the box, embracing change, and developing a personal code of ethics. ELA’s goal is to provide a transformational experience to inspire youth to become the pilots of their own lives. ELA has 25,000+ student alumni and more than 175 school and community partners. Learn more at effectivela.org

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