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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 Central New York Program for its Efforts to Improve Children’s Mental Health

The Promise Zone Honored for its School-based Approach to Wellness Across Onondaga County

Albany, NY –New York State is honoring The Promise Zone, a school-based mental health program in Onondaga County, with the 2022 ‘What’s Great in our State’ Community/Organization Award.

The Promise Zone program places Student Engagement Specialists in nearly all school districts in Onondaga County. Promise Zone services are available to any student in the school and range from informal groups or chats to working with a specialist to support individual needs or referral to higher level services. 

This program works to:

  • support students' social-emotional learning,
  • expand the reach of the school's student support team,
  • engage families in the school processes, and
  • facilitate connections to higher-level services addressing mental health and wellness.

“The Promise Zone shows us ‘What’s Great in Our State’ through its innovative strategies around school-based interventions and support,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “This works within a System of Care to provide a comprehensive approach to mental wellness. We thank this team for its hard work and commitment to children’s mental health.”

The Promise Zone 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.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized for the innovative work in our community,” said Jennifer Parmalee, Deputy Commissioner and Director of Community Services at Onondaga County Department of Children and Family Services. “The Promise Zone is a celebration of partners coming together for the best interests of children and youth as well as a community wide dedication to the success of students and families. We look forward to sharing the model with others in hopes that it will inspire innovation and partnership across the State."  


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.


This is a message from the New York State Office of Mental Health. 

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