Canopy Community Hope Award Recipients Announced

It all starts with hope. Hope is the belief that your future can be brighter and better than your past and that you actually have a role to play in making it better. Building communities of hope around our children and families allows them to begin healing, overcoming extraordinary challenges, and utilizing the tools to thrive. Through these communities of support, our children can become success stories. Quarterly, Canopy Children’s Solutions will recognize individuals and organizations in our community that play an active role in supporting our efforts in providing hope. Read below about our first recipients of the Community Hope Award:

Kimberly McDowell, Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services (MDCPS)- “Kimberly is an advocate and a strong source of inspiration to Canopy Children’s Solutions families who have nowhere else to turn. She works with the in-CIRCLE team and family in setting goals and always offers a willing hand to assist in removing barriers that prevent successfully achieving goals. Kimberly McDowell is a true source of hope for our families and community.” – Kimberly B. Young, in-CIRCLE Supervisor

Dr. Charles Stevenson, Principal – “We believe that Dr. Stevenson’s support was instrumental in helping these student succeed and we expect them to thrive in Rankin County School District.” – Maureen Long, Principal, CARES School Jackson

Stacy Jones, Parkwood Behavioral Health – “Stacy partners with Canopy MYPAC Solutions to help provide additional resources to the families he encounters. He has provided insight on where adjustments could be made to ensure that the best solutions are provided to the families. Stacy is often praised by the families. He has earned their trust by giving them a pathway of hope for success.” – Maria Perry, MYPAC Program Specialist

Roy Ann Bell, Emerson Family Center – “Roy Ann and the Emerson Family Center provide educational resources and promote family interaction. The center also promotes family interaction by providing an activity night each week. – Tim Weaver, Case Manager

Reginald Singleton, MDCPS Washington County- “Reginald goes above and beyond in support of children and families. He inspires families to become better by displaying a caring spirit and providing the resources to begin the process of rebuilding.” – Derrick Causey, Case Manager & Lillian Appleton, Therapist

Kids HUB Child Advocacy Center – “Kids Hub CAC refers children who have been a victim and/or witness to a traumatic event. Kids Hub instills hope in the victims or witnesses of these traumatic events through healing within our therapeutic solutions. They follow up with these clients through multi-disciplinary team meetings.” – Connie Anderson, Therapist

Pastor Kajsa Cole, Women of Fire of The Firehouse Church – “Pastor Kajsa Cole and Women of Fire of The Firehouse Church were asked to help Dejia, a mom who had gone through a lot of personal trauma and who was working with our in-CIRCLE team. Pastor Cole and her church loved Dejia, built her up and helped provide a pathway to hope.”- Nicole McCree, in-CIRCLE

Judge Trent Favre, Hancock County Youth Court – “Judge Favre has been vocal about his intention to continue fostering collaborative relationships in the community with service providers. He has been intentional with being proactive, rather than reactive, and with referring families to Canopy for services, as needed. As a result, more Hancock county families are receiving the help that they need and have a renewed sense of hope for a better and brighter future.” – Monique Johnson, South District Manager & Christina Palazzo, Lead Therapist

Charles Jackson, MDCPS Hinds County – “Charles and his team plays an important role to the families that we serve. He works countless hours to ensure the families have everything that they need to live in a healthy, cohesive environment. When asked about the families we serve, Mr. Jackson said, ‘If I don’t do anything else I am going to make sure the children and families have everything they need to be in a safe and healthy environment.’ Mr. Jackson is always available to assist the in-CIRCLE team. He goes beyond the call of duty to ensure the families achieve their goals.” – Tara Young, in-CIRCLE

Heather Clarkson, MDCPS Tunica County – “Heather is a faithful and dedicated worker to her families as well as for Canopy. She is deserving to be recognized for her dedication and passion to serve her families and their children.” – Lashundra Harris, in-CIRCLE

United Way of West Central Mississippi – “The United Way of West Central Mississippi has provided us and our community with many large supply donations of COVID supplies and food boxes. The United Way has continued to award the Warren County Children’s Shelter with funding and even has provided office space to support our therapist and the community. They are also planning an Annual Day of Hope to get community needs met.” – Daniel Wilson, WCCS Program Director

Lt. Kristen Johnson, Jackson County Sheriff Department – “Kristen Johnson is one of Jackson County’s strongest and diligent multi-disciplinary team (MDT) member. She is always willing to go an extra mile to help other MDT members understand how important collaboration of investigations are for the sake of the child victim. She exemplifies great passion in what she does, and is a great model to others with the same mission around child maltreatment.” – Sabreniee Wright, Director, South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center

Helping Kids Navigate Mental Health in 2020

From Mississippi Today, Marshall Ramsey’s Mississippi Zoom Tour visits with John Damon, Ph.D., CEO of Canopy Children’s Solutions. Damon talks about ways for parents to help their children cope with the pandemic and all the changes it has brought. He gives strategies for both older and younger children and talks about the need to remove stigma from mental health.

Working from Home: Parenting in a Pandemic

Working from home has taken on a whole new definition in the midst of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Many parents juggle working while also guiding their child(ren) through distance-learning. This new normal leaves many parents feeling overwhelmed and maybe even concerned about the future.

Canopy Children’s Solutions’ Nurse Practitioner Leah Rigney is the mother of five-month-old and five-year-old sons. She provides telehealth psychiatric care and medication management while her husband works outside of the home at a local hospital. She shares her work-from-home experience and tips to help families.

“This is a crisis.  It is not normal for anyone so, don’t stress too much about getting everything right,” said Rigney. “Do what you can as best you can and know that it’s OK.  Find a system that works for you and your family.”

In situations where a child must remain at home, Rigney recommends parents being up-front with employers about what you are having to manage at home and how you are going to complete your assigned tasks. Parents of infants or toddlers may need to bring in help, whether it is a babysitter or leaning on family for a few hours while you work. If kids are home, schedule a daily rest time or quiet time to give yourself an extended break.  Those with elementary-aged children should plan and prepare activities a child can choose from to do independently. This will help minimize interruptions and optimize efficiency while you work. Schedule frequent breaks for children and yourself. When planning for her child, Rigney prepares independent activities such as:

  • handwriting sheets
  • coloring pages
  • age-appropriate crafts
  • a charged tablet for educational apps
  • snacks and drinks a child can access without help
  • a blanket for rest or nap time

Aside from preparing activities and things your child may need, establish expectations about what you have to do and how you need your child to help.

“I have telehealth sessions all throughout the day. I talked to my son about what I was doing and why I need him to stay out of my home office while my door is closed. I let my patients know ahead of time that while I’m working in a confidential and secure space, they may overhear a child call out in the background. As parents themselves, they have all been very understanding,” said Rigney. “If you have a child wander in on a conference call, understand that he or she may be curious and they want your attention. Calmly redirect them to another activity and resume your call. I think regardless of what you are doing from home, you must set expectations for your family and for those you are working with. Make others aware of your own situation to limit surprises.”

For those who are juggling work and distance learning, a schedule and flexibility are essential. Rigney’s son is in kindergarten and she blocks her time early in the morning to attend to his assignments so she can be hands-on.

“Younger elementary students are not independent learners,” said Rigney. “Younger-aged students, those 4th grade and under, require your attention and the ability to ask questions. Meeting those needs requires some dedication and creativity. That may mean getting up extra early to work before others wake up so you can spend time during the day helping your child with school, or tag-teaming with your spouse. I’m a former teacher and even we struggle to get everything into a single day. If you have multiple children and feel overwhelmed, set small goals like one quality learning objective a day.”

You can only do what one person can do in a day, assures Rigney.

When students return to school, teachers expect that there will be a learning gap. For some kids, it will be bigger than others, but that is why school districts are putting in the work now to help prepare. If you are concerned that your child may regress, continue working on math and reading skills throughout the summer. Kids are resilient, so give yourself a break from worry.

Working from home with added responsibilities is difficult. Give yourself a break. Remember that even the best-made plans will have some bumps.  Reach out to your support system including your supervisor, teachers, family and friends, and make the best of a difficult, yet temporary, situation. Together, we’ll make it through.