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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 03, 2022

New York State Recognizes Capital Region School District for its Impact on Student Mental Wellness

Rensselaer City School District’s Project AWARE Program Honored for its Prevention Efforts

Albany, NY – New York State is honoring the Rensselaer City School District and its Project AWARE program with the 2022 ‘What’s Great in our State’ School/School District Award.

This award recognizes education systems that have increasingly recognized the importance of supporting wellness and addressing the mental health needs of its students.

The Rensselaer City School District’s (RCSD) Project AWARE program has created strong community partnerships to bring satellite services to the campus. It also offers several prevention programs like ‘Positive Action for Middle School’, ‘Too Good for Drugs & Violence’ and the ‘PAX Good Behavior Game’. Project AWARE has also provided Youth Mental Health First Aid training to 73% of the school district’s teachers.

“The Rensselaer City School District shows us ‘What’s Great in Our State’ through efforts that extend past the school walls,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “The Project AWARE program is truly a team effort that allows the district to reach students with critical services inside and outside the classroom. We thank the team for its commitment to children’s mental health.”

RCSD’s Project AWARE was presented with the award at the annual ‘What’s Great in our State 2022’ event on May 3rd. The celebration recognizes the individuals and programs that are successfully advancing the cause of children’s mental health in New York State.

“The Rensselaer City School District and Project AWARE team are deeply honored to be recognized for our achievements in advancing mental health and wellness for our K-12 students,” said Heather Staszak, Project AWARE’s In-School Coordinator.  “This has involved an extraordinary team effort with several key partners, including Rensselaer County Mental Health, the Start Children’s Center, the Rensselaer Police Department and of course, our parents and community members. Working together with our Pupil Personnel Services Department and Project AWARE, we’ve been able to create a continuum of training opportunities for teachers, faculty and staff and a multi-tiered system of mental health services and care to best serve the needs of all our students.”

 

What’s Great in Our State’

The ‘What’s Great in Our State’ event was first launched in 2010 and is held during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a national movement that raises awareness about the importance of children’s mental health. The event features a reading of Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement proclaiming the week as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a ceremony recognizing our honorees, and an art show featuring artwork created by children receiving services from New York State’s mental health system.

The event is sponsored by six New York State agencies and several children’s mental health advocacy organizations: The Office of Mental Health, the Council on Children and Families, the Department of Health, the State Education Department, the Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Early Care & Learning Council, Families Together in New York State, Inc., Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc., National Alliance on Mental Illness - New York State, New York State Network for Youth Success, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc., and the Suicide Prevention Center of New York.

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