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James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

May 07, 2019

New York State Recognizes Cayuga County Parent Advocate for Building Bridges of Mental Health Support in her Community

Kara Georgi Honored for her Dedication to Strengthening Families and Creating Community Connections

Albany, NY – New York State is honoring Kara Georgi - a parent and mental health advocate from Auburn, NY- with the 2019 ‘What’s Great in our State’ Family/Caregiver Award.

Kara Georgi has been involved in supporting children and families in her Cayuga County community since she first recognized the needs of her own son and began to build bridges between his services and providers. Her personal understanding of how isolating mental health challenges can be sparked a determination to reduce the stigma that surrounds it. 

“Kara’s dedication to making connections between families and providers in her community is a perfect example of how someone’s personal experience can improve our prevention framework across the state. Kara has had a profound impact on children and families that face mental health issues in her community,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “We thank all our honorees for their hard work and commitment to children’s mental health.”

Kara was presented with the award at the annual ‘What’s Great in our State 2019’ event on May 7th in Rotterdam. The celebration recognizes the individuals and programs that are successfully advancing the cause of children’s mental health in New York State.

Kara’s work has evolved to meet her community’s needs, including the creation of Play Space, a spot for young children to play, learn and grow and for families to build long lasting relationships.

She also promotes and hosts Community Cafés, parent-led discussions that use a research-based approach to strengthen families, called protective factors. Kara recognized the impact these Community Cafes could have in building relationships and community wellbeing and has expanded them from local schools to the larger community and is now using them to build bridges amongst stakeholders across the state and in her work nationally with the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds.

"Becoming a parent is one of life's greatest honors and with it comes a lot of learning, growing, and discovering.  My children have taught me the importance of resilience and how we are constantly building and fine tuning it,” says Kara Georgi, honoree. “They have also taught me that raising a child takes a community.  It takes being connected with others, learning about parenting and children's milestones, discovering how to build children's capacities in managing and regulating their emotions, and most importantly a willingness to ask for help to keep hope alive.  In my mind it takes what this year’s conference is all about.  It takes building bridges and repairing and restoring those bridges as needed so we can all be strong. I am truly honored to receive this recognition."

For more information on Play Space, visit https://www.playspaceabc.com/.

To learn more about Community Cafés, visit https://nyspep.org/projects/community-cafes.

Dive into the Strengthening Families Protective Factors framework, here https://ctfalliance.org/protective-factors/.


What’s Great in Our State’

The ‘What’s Great in Our State’ event coincides with Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a national movement that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and to show that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth.

‘What’s Great in Our State’ started in 2010 and has expanded and evolved. It features a Governor’s proclamation declaring the week as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a ceremony recognizing our honorees, keynote speakers and an art show featuring artwork created by children receiving services from New York State’s mental health system.

This year’s celebration includes an expanded format that combines education, awareness and recognition. The new, full-day forum adds three breakout workshops to the schedule, focusing on the work being done to build Systems of Care across New York State. The expanded format uses funding from a SAMHSA grant dedicated to strengthening this cross-systems effort.

The event is planned and sponsored by six New York State agencies and a number of mental health advocacy organizations. For more information on the partners involved with this year’s ‘What’s Great in Our State’ event, visit https://conta.cc/2W5Ok   


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