Giving a Voice to Those Who Need it Most
Thousands of children in Las Vegas struggle to be heard. Last week, we hosted a meeting with our Greater Good Council, a group of individuals and family foundations who come together quarterly to learn about how to maximize their philanthropic impact in our community. At this meeting, generously sponsored by Tom Thomas, we featured two organizations that are working to ensure these children’s voices are amplified, listened to, and validated.
Las Vegas is fortunate enough to be one of the first markets to benefit from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) and their mission to eliminate the stigma of mental health. The BTWF recently did a study on teen mental health in Las Vegas and found that 90 percent think it is a priority, yet only half of them are talking about it and merely 40 percent knew where to find mental health resources. Executive Director, Maya Enista Smith, shared how their partnership with the Clark County School District is introducing programming that is creating a generation of students who are building a culture of kindness and responsibility towards others who may be struggling with personal and emotional challenges. In fact, one student who was enrolled in Valley High School’s pilot Teen Mental Health First Aid Program said that he “now feels that whenever he sees someone struggling, he is compelled to help – just like first responders when they come across a scene of an accident.”
But what does a child do when they are asked to face and testify against someone who is accused of hurting them or someone they love? Many children are faced with this reality due to the legal rights of defendants. An innovative program run in conjunction with UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law called Kids’ Court works to demystify the legal process, reduce their anxiety and empower children to take back control. Founder and Director, Dr. Rebecca Nathanson, detailed how Kids’ Court works with children as young as three years old to help them understand each step that they will take and provides them with coping skills to allow them to focus on their testimony. These coping skills, which include teaching a breathing method to keep calm, have proven to help these children beyond the courtroom in their daily lives.
With the startling statistics of teen suicide and crime in our community, we are thankful that Las Vegas has organizations such as the Born This Way Foundation and Kids’ Court to work with children in Southern Nevada and empower them to make a positive change, not only in their lives, but in the lives of others.
See other great things you wish we were talking about? Reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via social media through @MoonridgeGroup on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and use the hashtag #bethechange. We love hearing about the wonderful things going on around us.