KidsMatter: Helping youth say “yes” to endless possibilities

December 15, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

New grant funding from Edward-Elmhurst Health will enable the nonprofit organization KidsMatter to empower youth in two crucial ways: community-wide youth mental health services and career exploration.

These services are being supported through Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Community Investment Fund. In July 2022, Edward-Elmhurst Heath announced it had awarded $3,994,000 to 14 organizations across Cook, DuPage and Will Counties with the goal of advancing health equity and supporting local economic growth.

KidsMatter, originally known as the Naperville Youth Development Coalition, was founded out of Edward Hospital more than 20 years ago as a community-wide prevention health strategy to combat destructive teenage behaviors. The organization established an evidence-based model based on research that shows the more assets young people have, the more successful they are in life.

“KidsMatter was developed to help build resilient youth,” said Nina Menis, CEO and Executive Director of KidsMatter. “We help prevent young people from destructive choices and instead say ‘yes’ to endless possibilities.”

The organization is currently expanding its youth mental health services. Last year, community leaders became concerned about growing reports of suicide and suicidal ideation among youth in the community. In response, KidsMatter partnered with Linden Oaks Behavioral Health to hold Youth Mental Health First Aid training for both parents and youth.

The grant funding from Edward-Elmhurst Health will enable KidsMatter to expand the Youth Mental Health First Aid training throughout DuPage and Will Counties. The grant will also fund training for a larger and more diverse pool of trainers.

“These classes are an opportunity to make a long-lasting impact in the community,” said Menis. “When you train someone, they have that tool forever.”

KidsMatter will also use the grant funding to provide career exploration opportunities in mental health services and pharmacy tech.

“There are so many career opportunities in healthcare today that young people aren't aware of,” said Menis.

The organization will give 60 students the opportunity to take career exploration courses offered through the local community college. One of the courses will help students explore a career in healthcare while earning a certificate as a pharmacy technician. The other course will introduce students to career paths in mental health while earning a certificate in Teen Mental Health First Aid.

“We're so grateful for this opportunity,” said Menis. “We’re grateful for the investment in the youth in our community from Edward-Elmhurst Health.”

Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst’s Community Investment Fund partners.

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