PPAL in Print
April 2022
City of Lawrence Honors PPAL
Join Us in Wishing a Fond Farewell to Joel
Congratulations to Joel Khattar and Irelsa Oliveras! On April 4, PPAL, Irelsa and Joel were recognized by the city of Lawrence and the Fundación Cambiando el Mundo de Personas con Discapacidad (CEMDPCD), which is run by Raquel Quezada. We are deeply honored and most proud of the work that our “small but mighty” organization does everyday.

Joel was asked to do a presentation and in-service to many parents in the Lawrence area that morning. The presentation was rich, interactive and engaging, slowly bringing back a piece of pre-pandemic normalcy.

PPAL would also like to thank Joel for his amazing service to the organization as he moves on to other opportunities. Joel has been an outstanding manager for PPAL staff and an excellent ambassador to our community, bringing our perspective on the value of families everywhere he goes! He has been a pleasure to work with and brought immeasurable value to our organization.

Joel is moving into the position of Director of Social Emotional Learning at Northbridge Schools, who feel very lucky to have him! Congratulations to Joel on this amazing move.
Action Changes Things
Celebrating Children's Mental Health Week
Children's Mental Health Week is just around the corner! This year we are celebrating during the first week of May (1 - 7). Across the state, hundreds of families, youth, educators, clinicians and many others promote awareness about children's mental health. Our theme for this year is Action Changes Things! Please join us in action by wearing green ribbons to raise awareness, reaching out to your legislators, lighting it up green, and holding special events for the entire month of May!

We currently have proclamations declaring May 1-7 Children's Mental Health Week from the following towns:

  • Brookline
  • Easthampton
  • Gardner
  • Lynn
  • Lynnfield
  • Malden
  • Marblehead
  • Nahant
  • Newburyport
  • Shrewsbury
  • Southbridge
  • Springfield
  • Swampscott
  • Swansea
  • Watertown
  • Winchendon
  • Westminster
  • Waltham
  • Worcester

Visit PPAL's CMHW website for information on asking your town for a proclamation!

The Massachusetts Statehouse, among many other locations throughout the state, has agreed to light up green for Children's Mental Health Awareness from May 1 – 7. You can find information about lighting up green for Children's Mental Health Awareness here.

You can also photograph yourself, your pets, or anything green to promote Children’s Mental Health Awareness. Please email us your photos at CMHWeek@PPAL.net, and post your photos to the Facebook groups Where's Your Green Ribbon and Turn Your Home Green. Be sure to tag your photos with the hashtag #CMHWeek on social media platforms!

Check out our Children's Mental Health Week webpage to access our toolkit, sample language for requesting proclamations for your town, instructions for lighting it up green, events to attend, and more actions to take!

Grief & Loss During COVID
New PPAL Study Released
We are looking at an epidemic of grief in children. Over the past two years of the pandemic, many children - and their parents - lost someone close to them. Children also missed out on graduations, proms and other milestones. While many children do well with adult support, children with mental health needs are at greater risk. Many need grief-informed treatment.

In February 2022, PPAL surveyed 243 families about loss, grief and the impact on their children. The results showed that:

  • 59% of kids lost a family member or someone close to them (this number is probably higher for families of color) 
  • 79% of children had worsening mental health and behaviors 
  • About half of parents said the pandemic impacted their own mental health

Click here to read the report today.

MANY thanks to all the families who participated!
Together Towards Tomorrow
Save the Date for Our June 3 Virtual Conference
Don’t forget to save the date for PPAL’s annual conference! Held virtually this year, the conference, Together Towards Tomorrow, will feature keynote speaker Brynn Burger as well as numerous workshops to choose from. 

Sign up now here, or learn more on our website. We’re excited for you to join us!
Introducing Johana Rodriguez
Join Us in Welcoming Our Newest Multicultural Outreach Coordinator!
PPAL is happy to introduce you to our Multicultural Outreach Coordinator, L. Johana Rodriguez. Johana was born in Honduras and arrived in the United States 30 years ago. She is an American citizen now but being a person of Hispanic background, new to the community and its culture, things were not always easy for her. She is the mother of three children and part of a blended family. Through her many experiences, she realized that there are, and have always been, many barriers that the Latino community have around understanding and addressing mental health. 

Because of the experiences Johana has dealt with in her professional and personal life, she changed her career from being a business professional to working with families that are struggling with mental health issues and acceptance. Her training has included being a Family Partner, SEPAC leader and a fierce advocate in her community. She strives daily to change the stigma of mental illness in all communities - especially those of color - by providing families the tools they need to get the professional and medical support they require to live their best lives.  
Read Our Tip Sheets in Spanish!
Check Out Our Latest Translations
¿Habla español? Check out PPAL’s publications page to find new Spanish translations of many of PPAL’s helpful tip sheets. Once there, click on the image of the tip sheet that you want, then scroll down to find the Spanish language version. A huge thank-you to Irelsa Oliveras for her work providing the translations!
PPAL Joins Peer Leaders to Create Workforce Group
Boosting the Voices of Peers in the Workforce
PPAL has been working with other peer leaders to form the Massachusetts Peer Workforce Coalition. Certified peers, recovery coaches, family partners and family support specialists are welcome to check out our website.  The coalition is in an early yet exciting stage, and is working to make the voices of peers in the workforce have greater impact.
Juvenile Justice Update
Visit Our Website to Check Out Upcoming Trainings
Trainings, meetings, and family support have been keeping our Juvenile Justice (JJ) program busy! Our JJ team has been running two of our trainings, JJ101 and JJ102, monthly in both Spanish and English. 
We have also been attending all of the countywide Juvenile Detention Alternative (JDAI) meetings. We've also been involved in numerous subcommittees, including the recruitment and retainment subcommittee for Worcester County and the school to prison pipeline statewide subcommittee, where we are continuously speaking up to represent the parent voice. We also attended the JDAI Quarterly meeting on Friday, April 15th. 
The third session of Active Parenting of Teens will be starting the first week of May. We continue to support many parents with school advocacy with our school problem-solving clinics.

Want to learn more? Visit the events page to view upcoming trainings!
PPAL's Question of the Month: How Has COVID-19 Affected Bullying?
Visit Our Website to Answer the Latest Questions
Every month, PPAL asks those raising a child or supporting a young adult with behavioral health needs, or working closely with someone who is, how things are going in a particular area.

This month, we asked families how COVID-19 has affected bullying. Here’s what you had to say!

In May, we are asking you about your family's experience with stigma -  prejudiced thinking about mental health and your child. Be sure to visit our website to answer May's question!

Parent/Professional Advocacy League