Friends of Youth will host Rise and Thrive Breakfast to support Issaquah schools

November 6, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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NEW — 3:20 p.m. Nov. 6, 2014

Group to raise funds for counseling, prevention services

As the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting rocked communities across the state, Issaquah School District Superintendent Ron Thiele sent a message to parents.

In it, Thiele expressed his condolences to the victim’s families and provided insight into how the district prepares for the rare possibility of a local school shooting.

He mentioned active-shooter trainings for staff and students, improving situational awareness and the need for mental health services.

“Last year, we began a partnership with Swedish Hospital to provide mental health counseling in our high schools,” Thiele wrote. “Additionally, we work with Friends of Youth to provide mental health and drug and alcohol counseling.”

Friends of Youth currently supports onsite chemical dependency professionals at each high school and a part time mental health therapist for one elementary school.

“The intent is to make sure that young people and their families have their behavioral needs met,” Friends of Youth CEO and President Terry Pottmeyer said.

If you go

Friends of Youth Rise and Thrive Breakfast
7:30-8:30 a.m. Nov. 12
Pickering Barn
1730 10th Ave. N.W.
Register at www.friendsofyouth.org.

Steady behavioral health is an important necessity of a healthy childhood and a smooth transition to adulthood, Pottmeyer said. Her nonprofit organization’s goal is to offer such support, giving kids a chance to “grow up as happy, healthy, well-educated young people.”

“Part of that is an exemplary education, which happens in school, but in order to be able to learn, just like you have to have a good breakfast in the morning, you also need to make sure that you’re emotionally healthy,” she said. “And just as kids bruise their knees and fall down and break their arms, the process of living creates some challenges in your emotional health.”

Onsite counselors offer a support system or a sounding board for students struggling with everything from chemical dependency to grief. They assist with behavioral health issues, so children can focus on their education with clear minds.

It’s important to have such support directly in the schools, Pottmeyer said.

“Ideally, in our perfect world, as providers of behavioral health, we would like kids to have that access to a professional during the school day,” she said. “It’s a low-barrier, integrated approach that just makes it easy for kids to get that support when they need it.”

It’s been more difficult to find the money for onsite behavioral health professionals, Pottmeyer said, as state funding shrinks for schools.

“A decade ago, the school districts had the funds to also partner with us and provide some of that financial support, but as the funding became more difficult for districts, they cut back on this because they needed to have the funds to go into other portions of the educational school day,” she said.

One fundraising solution that Friends of Youth employs is a charity breakfast. In its second year, the breakfasts offered in three different school district communities raise behavioral health awareness and “raise funds to ensure that those services are available as much as possible within the school day,” Pottmeyer said.

Attendees can give and hear from students who benefit from the onsite counseling services at three separate breakfasts in the Issaquah, Riverview and Snoqualmie Valley school districts.

The Issaquah one, the Rise and Thrive Breakfast, is from 7:30-8:30 a.m. Nov. 12 at Pickering Barn, 1730 10th Ave. N.W. State Rep. Jay Rodne will emcee.

Participants are encouraged to pre-register in advance, though all will be welcomed on the day of the event. The breakfast is free, though donations are suggested.

“We would like to do as much as we can,” Pottmeyer said. “This breakfast allows us to say to the community, ‘We think this is important, and if you agree, let’s join together and do what we can to bring these services back into schools.’”

Friends of Youth has been helping young people in challenging circumstances get their lives back on track since 1951.

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