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Grant empowers McDowell educators to address mental health concerns in youth
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Darkness to Light

Grant empowers McDowell educators to address mental health concerns in youth

Grant empowers McDowell educators to address youth mental health concerns

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The McDowell County Health Coalition and local educators are celebrating that the Darkness to Light grant money has been approved to address mental health problems at McDowell County schools.

Darkness to Light is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering adults to prevent sexual abuse and other forms of mistreatment for children. Through a combination of research, education, and community advocacy, Darkness to Light uses the Social Behavior Change approach to pioneer new training initiatives that bring child sexual abuse prevention to the forefront of cultural conversation, according to a news release.

Within the Social Behavior Change framework, educators, staff, and community partners hope to address the wider issue of environmental and cultural situations that contribute to the continued issue of abuse in the community.

The grant, awarded by Dogwood Health Trust, provided the financial resources to purchase Darkness to Light training manuals. The training is for McDowell County School System staff and community partners within the behavioral health field. With the Darkness to Light grant, the goal of the Health Coalition and community partners is to bring about best practices in child safety throughout the community. This grant allows the McDowell County Health Coalition and community partners to bring best practices in child safety throughout the community, according to the news release.

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Toby Bramblett, board chairman of the Health Coalition stated, “When Stephanie Dvorak brought this need to the Health Coalition, we acted fast. Quickly bringing a small group together to build an appeal for support from the Dogwood Health Trust to consider is a testament to our community’s collaborative nature. We are grateful for the partnership between the school system and the coalition. This is a great example of how we strive to meet our mission: The McDowell County Health Coalition connects, convenes, collaborates, and creates opportunities for whole-person health in the McDowell community.”

Stephanie Dvorak, a licensed behavioral health provider who worked on the grant with McDowell County Health Coalition, says the opportunity allows the school system to provide a Darkness to Light manual for approximately 800 staff and community partners.

“Having this manual allows staff to have a resource to support and protect our children not only in our school buildings but in all settings, from the day of the training and beyond,” said Dvorak.

McDowell County Health Coalition, a local nonprofit focused on the physical and emotional health of community members, will work to facilitate training opportunities over the continued school year, according to the news release.

“I am happy to know the McDowell County Health Coalition has been successful in obtaining this resource for the benefit of students all across McDowell County Schools,” said School Superintendent Mark Garrett. “The abuse and exploitation of kids is reprehensible and something our community needs to know, no matter how uncomfortable it is to face. We need to learn more in order to do more to help stop the suffering.”

The McDowell County Health Coalition connects, convenes, collaborates, and creates opportunities for whole-person health in the McDowell community. The coalition supports programs like McDowell Access to Care and Health and workplace wellness. Visit https://mcdowellhealthcoalition.org/#leadership to learn more. For more information about Darkness to Light, visit https://www.d2l.org/our-work/. For more information about McDowell County Schools, visit https://www.mcdowell.k12.nc.us/.

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