Evanston institutions boost anti-bullying education

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Turning Point Behavioral
Health Care Center Events

Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center presented A Night at the Movies on April 8, 2013 from 6-9 p.m. at 27 Live, 1012 Church St. in Evanston. The event, attended by more than 80 supporters included an intimate screening of Doug Blush and Lisa Klein’s critically acclaimed documentary Of Two Minds exploring life with bipolar disorder. Following the screening was a Q&A session moderated by Turning Point Board Member Robert Carty. It featured award-winning filmmaker Doug Blush as well as artist and architect Carlton Davis, one of the six individuals featured in the film. The fundraiser grossed $4,500 to benefit Turning Point’s mission of making comprehensive, high-quality mental health care accessible to all.

Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center hosted its annual benefit on June 19 at the Westmoreland Country Club, 2601 Old Glenview Road in Wilmette. Last year’s benefit, entitled Celebrating New Growth! offered a special add-on VIP reception that previewed Turning Point’s exciting new collaboration with the Chicago Botanic Gardens Horticultural Therapy Project. Presenters included Clare Johnson of the Chicago Botanic Gardens and Architect Joseph Behles of Behles + Behles. This year’s benefit honored North Suburban Healthcare Foundation representatives Beverly J. Kroll (Board Chair) and Donald P. Perille (Board Vice Chair). Approximately 120 guests attended the benefit grossing $46,000 to support Turning Point’s mission of making comprehensive, high quality mental health care accessible to all.

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Growing up is hard for any kid, and bullying has been taken more seriously in recent years. Two Evanston institutions are doing their part to help with the issue, from education to intervention.

A program for elementary through high school students developed by a Northwestern University student tackles the bullying issue with NU student-athletes. NU senior and softball player Marisa Bast founded Stand Up and ROARR (Reach Out and Reinforce Respect) in 2013. Last summer, she developed the program as part of her Leadership Certificate Program field study with help from Allina Nikolopoulou, school psychologist at Haven Middle School, and Maureen Palchak, NU Athletics assistant athletic director, community relations.

The three created a program to take the anti-bullying message to third- through ninth-graders. A committee of student-athletes presents it interactively and through voices that are relatable.

“We think this program is important because it helps support what is already being taught in the schools but in a different voice through the student-athletes. We worked hard to create something that supports the existing curriculum and to use some of the same terminology so it’s just reinforcing what is already being taught,” Palchak said.

One of the main messages is one of respect for others.

“We have presented to over 1,000 kids in Evanston and Chicago,” she added. “We can present to a small class of 20 to 25 kids or a large assembly of 75 to 100.”

“We’ve done both, and there are great advantages to both. All of the kids receive a new folder, an interactive one-page sheet and bookmark with leave behind reminders about the program and what it means to be respectful,” she said.

Palchak said the program would continue to present at area schools through the remainder of the school year.

“Starting up in the fall, we look forward to continuing visits throughout Evanston and the entire Chicagoland area,” she said.

As hard as the community can work to prevent bullying, it still can be tough to escape.

Kids who are bullied can experience mental health issues including depression and anxiety which can lead to decreased academic achievement,” said Kirk Erickson, Psy.D chief operating officer at Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center, 8324 Skokie Blvd.

According to DoSomething.org, 90 percent of fourth through eighth graders report being victims of bullying. Turning Point has 45 years of experience addressing the mental health issues of children in the community. Turning Point, the Woman’s Club of Evanston and District 65 came together to address the issue. The group developed a six-week early intervention program. The first round Nov. 5 to Dec. 17, 2013, and it included sixth graders from Martin Luther King Lab School.

This program, free of charge to participate, is an early intervention program that seeks to address issues of bullying before they result in more serious mental health and academic problems for both sides, the victim and the bully.

The groups meet weekly and run through a curriculum of presentations and discussions on various areas of bullying including what do you when you’re the victim, physical and verbal bully, tech-based bullying and sexual harassment.

“The first group was very successful so a second group for fifth graders began in March of this year,” Erickson said.