Resiliency Ring 2012

Written by: Gretchen Behimer

On May 10, 2012, Children’s Mental Health Day, a group of Clermont County families traveled to Columbus to participate in the 8th Annual Resiliency Ring.  The Resiliency Ring’s focus is to bring awareness to the issue of children’s mental health and the need for continued funding for services through testimonials, awards, and the formation of a human ring around the Capitol Building.  It is estimated that close to 400 people participated this year. Additionally, family members are encouraged to visit legislative offices to advocate for children’s mental health and to put a face and story to the cause.

At the Resiliency Ring this year, Jean Houston was awarded the Resiliency Advocacy & Justice Award.  Jean is co-founder of Families Connected, Inc., a grass roots family advocacy organization.  For years, Jean has worked tirelessly for the children and families of Clermont County.  Jean has a desire to support youth and families in obtaining the services and educational supports that they need to succeed.

Over the last 3 years, Jean has been the Lead Family Contact for the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board’s System of Care, called FAST TRAC, funded by a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  She has put her heart into developing a family component in the System of Care.  She organizes family educational and fun events that occur at least monthly.  She also developed a Family Leadership Training program and the first group of 18 family members recently graduated from the program.  The intent of the Family Leadership Training is to assist family members in gaining the skills necessary to become effective advocates for their children and to become empowered to work alongside the systems to improve the System of Care.  The families are learning about problem solving, budgeting, and the county systems, among other topics.  The group has really grown in their knowledge and desire to become more involved in the community and has found support in one another.

Jean also formed a family advisory group, which oversees the family-driven efforts in our county and organized a family and youth run conference that occurred on May 5th.  The focus of the day was resiliency and Jean worked with a local family to tell their story of resiliency.  The daylong conference was the first of its type in Clermont County and the plan is to hold the conference every two years.  Families did all the planning, from determining speakers to lunch to raffles to resource tables.  Additionally, Jean supervises four Peer Support Partners (PSPs) who provide peer to peer support to families engaged in the wraparound process, which is a team-based process with family, youth and professionals as equal partners at the table to collaboratively identify ways to support youth and their family to experience success in their communities, schools and homes.  We hear positive comments about the support PSPs provide to families, not only from the families themselves, but Juvenile Court, Children’s Protective Services and providers.  The goal of the PSP program is to support family members in speaking for themselves, not speaking for them.

We applaud Jean in her efforts to support the families and youth of Clermont County!