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Avielle Foundation Hosts Youth Brain Health First Aid Course



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A diverse crowd gathered on Saturday, July 11, at The Resiliency Center of Newtown (RCN) to attend The Avielle Foundation’s Youth Brain Health First Aid course.

The course certified citizens ages 15 and up with the skillset to recognize potential signs and symptoms of youth in a brain health crisis, and ways to appropriately respond, according to The Avielle Foundation.

The program, federally managed by the National Council for Behavioral Health, was offered free of charge through the foundation’s support.

Jeremy Richman, who founded The Avielle Foundation with his wife Jennifer Hensel and Darren Bishop, helped lead the course alongside fellow certified instructors Megan McKee, Head O’ Meadow Elementary School school counselor; Jennifer Sokira, music therapist at RCN; and Amy Taylor, Sandy Hook Elementary School second grade teacher.

The seminar, which took place from 8 am to 5 pm on Saturday, drew people from around the state, ranging from high school students to professional therapists. Instructors covered a range of topics aimed at helping youth in both crisis and noncrisis situations.

Participants learned about handling youth who live with depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, eating disorders, substance abuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other brain health issues.

Dr Richman said hebelieves in the program's importance because “it’s a way of preventing harm to oneself or others.”

Dr Richman also said that he has seen the program succeed in breaking down barriers when it comes to topics that are often considered more sensitive ones. The course can go a long way in simply sparking conversation, Dr Richman said, or as he puts it, “making the invisible world of brain health, tangible.”

The Avielle Foundation-sponsored class has been held five times in the Newtown area, once in Chula Vista, Calif., and once in Tucson, Ariz.

Dr Richman and The Avielle Foundation hope to add a revised class that caters to youth-on-youth, or peer-on-peer first aid, as well as continuing to offer the regular course as long as residents show interest.

The next certification course will be held on September 19 at RCN, and all Newtown residents are welcome to sign up.

Further information about the foundation is available online at its website, aviellefoundation.org.

Pictured from left during the The Avielle Foundation’s Youth Brain Health First Aid course held on Saturday, July 11, are event instuctors Amy Taylor, Megan McKee, Jennifer Sokira, and Jeremy Richman.   
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