RANGELEY – The John T. Gorman Foundation recently awarded 11 grants totaling $250,000 to organizations across the state to aid in addressing some of the health-related challenges of the pandemic. Rangeley Health and Wellness was chosen as one of the recipients, receiving $25,000 to put towards mental health initiatives for teens.
“We have lots of plans for the grant,” said Rangeley Health and Wellness Executive Director Leslie White. “We’re interested in using it to respond to some of the ways teens have been impacted recently by the pandemic. They’ve been affected in a variety of ways and the grant is meant to support local teens by helping to meet their basic needs and creating outreach and education programs.”
According to White, Rangeley Health’s Behavioral Health Coordinator, Joanne Dickson, is spearheading the plans for various initiatives that the organization hopes to offer for teenagers in the coming months. Over the past three years, she’s worked with schools in the area and the time has offered her an in-depth perspective on the ways that teens have been particularly affected in the past year. The increase in isolation and various other emotional challenges that have arisen due to their changed environments have impacted teens during a time in their lives that is, in normal years, tumultuous enough. Dickson brought her observations back to Rangeley Health and has been discussing possible plans for a stronger teen outreach program for quite some time now.
“It’s a timely grant. We’ve been wanting to bolster our program for teens, and now we have a focus for it. We’re looking to host activities with educational components to promote both resilience and general emotional well-being. We want to give teens outlets to manage the isolation and the stress while educating them on self-sufficiency,” said White.
To accomplish this, RHW is collaborating with several organizations such as Saddleback Mountain and the Heritage Trust to coordinate outreach events that allow for social interaction and optimal skill-set development opportunities. The first “kickoff event” will be on Wednesday, March 31 at Saddleback Mountain. Teens and children will get to ski for free for the day and Rangeley Health will be introducing some of their upcoming initiatives and events.
White hopes that as this grant allows their wellness-based program for teens to flourish, the initiatives remain even once the most immediate needs of teens in the pandemic are addressed.
“Whatever we put into place now, we hope to continue in years to come,” said White.
The kinds of skills they hope to foster in their initiatives are ones that aren’t specific simply to the times of the pandemic, but are important for future children and teens as well, she said.