ABC – Above & Beyond the Classroom – $5,000
The Community Foundation of Teton Valley is honored to award a $5,000 grant to ABC – Above and Beyond the Classroom in Teton Valley to expand mental health and wellness programs for at-risk children participating in its 2023 Summer Camp and 2023/24 After School programs. The Community Foundation strongly supports efforts supporting at-risk children’s social-emotional development. Teton School District #401, the Mental Health Coalition of Teton Valley, and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are partnering with ABC to support the project.
ABC provides academic, enrichment, and wellness after-school and summer programming for at-risk students in K-5th grade. As the only out-of-school program in Teton Valley specifically targeting at-risk children, ABC regularly sees students who have experienced more than one Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are potentially traumatic experiences and events, ranging from abuse and neglect to living with an adult with a mental illness to food insecurity and homelessness. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, “Toxic stress from ACEs can change brain development and affect how the body responds to stress. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood” (https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aces/index.html). In short, there is a significant need for addressing at-risk students’ ACEs in Teton Valley.
Research indicates that several proactive measures can help reduce the adverse effects of ACEs. One strategy is through the early teachings of positive mental health strategies. ABC proactively addresses the harmful effects of adverse childhood experiences as part of its mission by providing a safe and supportive place for children to go during out-of-school time. It also regularly provides modeling and instruction in social and emotional regulation skills.
The Community Foundation grant will support the expansion of ABC’s current mental health wellness program for its 2023 Summer Camp and 2023/24 After School program. It will fund, in part, the contract of a licensed counselor to lead group mental health sessions during our 2023 Summer Camp program. Additionally, it will pay for mental health professionals to lead teacher training in trauma-informed practices for ABC’s Summer Camp and After School staff. This project will build ABC’s mental health programs in the following ways: 1) Increasing its mental health group sessions with a licensed counselor during the 2023 ABC Summer Camp program. ABC will work with the Mental Health Coalition of Teton Valley to schedule six weeks of mental health groups with one of their counselors for the 2023 ABC Summer Camp; 2) Building internal staff capacity through professional development in trauma-informed educational practices and social-emotional teaching. Training will be scheduled in June 2023 for Summer Camp staff and in the fall of 2023 for After School staff (exact timing TBD based on staff schedules and school calendar), and 3) Purchasing program materials and curriculum that support student mental health and social-emotional skill development.
ABC is well-poised to complete this project as it will primarily support expanding and improving its current programming. ABC is already planning to run five weeks of mental health groups for ABC. After-School students in Victor and Driggs in the spring of 2023 ABC will continue the program into the 2023 Summer Camp and 2023/24 After-School programs. Furthermore, the organization has the staffing necessary to execute a program like this with eight part-time staff, two volunteers, and plans to hire a Program Director position in the spring or summer of 2023.
The Community Foundation commends the vital work of ABC in addressing the mental health and social-emotional development needs of at-risk students in its Summer Camp and After School programs.