Regions Foundation Announces Major Donation to Canopy Children’s Solutions

The Alabama-based Regions Foundation, a nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank supporting a wide range of community investments, on Wednesday announced a donation of $150,000 to Canopy Children’s Solutions – a nonprofit dedicated to providing innovative mental health, social service and educational solutions to Mississippi’s most vulnerable children and youth.

The Regions Foundation’s commitment will support two programs:

  • Canopy’s Autism Solutions, which offers early intervention and day school programs for children on the autism spectrum
  • Canopy’s CARES Schools in Jackson and Hattiesburg, which offer individual educational services and specialized resources to children in 31 public school districts

“Part of our work in the communities we serve is helping children confront challenges they face and become better positioned for long-term success,” said Marta Self, Executive Director of the Regions Foundation. “Canopy Children’s Solutions is a place where skilled professionals help children discover their abilities and gain access to opportunities they otherwise would not have. Canopy is making a measurable, long-term difference for people across Mississippi, and we are proud to make this investment to support these essential services.”

Marta Self, Executive Director of the Regions Foundation, speaking at presentation ceremony held at the Canopy Center of Excellence in Jackson, Miss.

Nearly 11,000 Mississippi children are affected by autism, according to Canopy. In 2010, Canopy started offering Autism Solutions to address the needs of these children and their families. Further, in 2018, Canopy opened its Center of Excellence in Jackson, which offers Applied Behavior Analysis therapy in a state-of-the-art facility that is safe, sensory-friendly and on the leading edge of autism technologies.

“We are immeasurably grateful for this catalytic gift from the Regions Foundation. The shared values and vision of Canopy and the Regions Foundation create a powerful synergy aimed at two of the most critical needs in our state – autism and educational solutions,” said John D.  Damon, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Canopy Children’s Solutions. “This transformational gift will open new doors of possibility to our state’s most precious assets – our children. We are thrilled to partner with the Regions Foundation to bring hope and healing to Mississippi’s next generation of leaders.”

In recent years, Regions Bank has evolved and enhanced its services for individuals on the spectrum as well as support for their caregivers. Through a company-wide initiative, Regions offers autism-friendly bank branches that include various accommodations to serve those with the neuro-developmental disability.

“Regions and its Foundation have a long history of making meaningful differences in the lives of others and supporting people in the communities we call home,” said Robert Leard, Metro Jackson Market Executive for Regions Bank. “The children of Mississippi are the future of our state. Through the Foundation’s support of organizations like Canopy, we can build on our support of those living with autism while helping give them additional resources and the encouragement they need to be successful.”

Damon said funds from the Regions Foundation will specifically be used to support autism therapies at Canopy’s Center for Excellence location in Jackson, provide education services at the two CARES Schools in Jackson and Hattiesburg, and expand education opportunities for schools across Mississippi.

Canopy Autism Solutions Staff during Regions Foundation Check presentation.

In 2018, the Hattiesburg CARES School served students from 18 school districts, while the Jackson CARES School served students from 13 school districts. Approximately 95% of children who attend Canopy CARES Schools are placed by the school districts, which have identified these children as needing specialized resources to help them succeed in educational settings.

Educators at the CARES Schools specialize in trauma-informed care and customize education plans for each child. Classrooms are self-contained, featuring a one-to-five teacher-to-student ratio. CARES Schools’ services are provided at no cost to parents.

“The Regions Foundation is excited to partner with organizations like Canopy that are working every day to connect children with the resources they need to help them address life’s challenges,” said Greg Garraway, Hattiesburg Area Market Executive for Regions Bank. “I know Canopy’s presence in Hattiesburg is of vital importance to families who need the CARES School. We are proud to have the school in Hattiesburg, and I look forward to its continued growth and service to the community.”

About Regions Financial Corporation

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $128 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services.  Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,500 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at

About Regions Foundation

Regions Foundation is committed to making a positive, meaningful difference in the communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation’s approach to community engagement involves the investment of time, talents and resources in causes and partnerships that support its strategic priorities: economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. Regions Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Birmingham, Alabama, and is funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.

About Canopy Children’s Solutions

Canopy Children’s Solutions’ mission is to help children thrive and families overcome extraordinary challenges. Canopy serves over 5,000 children and their families annually through an array of behavioral health, educational and social service throughout Mississippi. For more than 100 years, Canopy has provided innovative solutions to many of Mississippi’s most vulnerable youth. Learn more at or call 800-388-6247.

Creating Inclusion with Five Simple Words

Even as an adult, when I walk into an unfamiliar social situation I am anxiously thinking, “I hope I see someone I know who I can talk to.”  Underneath this thought, however, is a need to belong. We all have this need, but during adolescence is often when we find that filling this need is most critical.

Canopy CEO John D. Damon, Ph. D

When we think about the silly things kids do these days, it’s easy as adults to forget how deeply that desire to fit in affects young people. Remember what it was like walking into the classroom of a new school, going by yourself to a popular social event, or walking into the Sunday School class alone?

For most kids, these are terrifying moments and the one thought running through their minds, “will I fit in – do I belong?”

Sadly, kids spend many days feeling lost and unwelcomed, even in familiar situations. We know that 1 in 5 kids struggles with a mental health challenge, with anxiety disorders being at the top of the list. In an anxious person, the brain tells the body that you are in danger and you must find a way to survive. This narrows down life decisions to two options – run or fight. When a child with anxiety finds himself in an uncomfortable or unwelcoming situation, his heart rate increases, breathing is rapid and shallow, palms are cold and clammy. He may feel sick to his stomach or notice his head feels “swimmy” as all the blood rushes from his extremities to his torso and brain. How well do you think he will navigate this novel social situation? If you guessed, not very well, you’re onto something. So, what do we do?

We equip our kids with five simple words that have the potential to change the world – “WILL YOU SIT WITH ME?” If we teach our kids to watch for unfamiliar faces walking into the classroom, or be in-tune to notice the kids along the fringe and invite them in. “Will you sit with me?” will suddenly tear down the barriers to inclusion and change the world for kids with the greatest potential to feel as though they don’t belong.

Every child wants to feel included

Kids experiencing loneliness, social isolation, or feeling disconnected from the group are at greater risk for depression, anxiety, substance abuse or suicide. By teaching our kids how to be inclusive, and to care for one another, we are surrounding kids with the positive support they need to face and overcome adversity. It all starts with an invitation – “Will you sit with me?”

Content provided by John D. Damon, Ph. D

Get more tips from Canopy experts in the Your Child’s Health Fall 2019 insert from Parents and Kids Magazine.


Mental Health Emergency

Hospital emergency rooms (ERs) have been flooded in recent years despite the growth of primary-care access and local urgent care clinics in both metropolitan and rural communities. Many of those visits could be avoided altogether with proper education and preventative care—especially that focusing on mental health.

According to a 2017 report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, ER visits between 2006 and 2014 related to mental health and substance-use increased by nearly half. However, individuals entering those same hospitals for suicidal injury or contemplation increased by 415 percent in that same period. The public taking notice of mental health crises is great news; however, the disturbing trend is how far individuals, particularly our youth, are falling before they get the help they need for a mental health illness.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stand at one in every five youth battles a mental health disorder, yet fewer than 20 percent ever receive the help they need. Correspondingly, data shows our teens and young adults are turning to suicide at an all-time high since the government began monitoring suicide deaths in the 1960s. Many experts argue this trend is occurring because of an overall stigma surrounding mental health and failure to equip children with the tools needed to maintain strong mental health and the resiliency to overcome adversity.

“As a parent of teen and young adult children, I know my generation was raised where you didn’t talk about mental health, much less admit you were having a problem,” said Canopy Children’s Solutions’ CEO John D. Damon, Ph.D. “Thankfully, our kids are pushing back on the mental health stigma, but as parents, clinicians and physicians, we have to do more to advance the narrative.”

According to Damon, “Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. The more we see integrated care by encouraging mental health screenings during annual check-ups, the more adept we will be at identifying and addressing mental health concerns early.”

A secondary component is having physicians encourage parents to have talks about mental health at home.

“It starts with talking to our kids, even preschoolers, about their emotions. They need to learn to identify what they feel and be encouraged to express it to a trusted adult,” says Hart Wylie, PMHNP-BC, psychiatric nurse practitioner with Canopy Behavioral Health Solutions. “If they practice this sequence when they are young, they are more likely to continue it as teens and adults. Parents should remember regardless of what their child tells them, to remain calm, listen intently and ask their child to ‘help me understand’ or ‘tell me more.’”

Caleb Cauthen, LPC, outpatient therapist at Canopy’s Center of Excellence cautions parents about not driving the narrative for tough topics with their teens.

“You see teen dramas like 13 Reasons Why that contain horrifyingly realistic depictions of suicide that script it as this glamorized ‘last laugh’ for the main character. It’s disturbing and completely inaccurate,” says Cauthen. “When kids see things like this and haven’t been told the truth about suicide or the right ways of dealing with heavy feelings, you wind up with kids acting impulsively and emulating things they’ve seen in movies, TV shows, videogames, and things they’ve heard from peers. Parents have to consider that kids will learn about suicide, sex, drugs, but in order to safeguard them, kids need to first hear about these topics from their parents.”

Wylie and Cauthen echo one another in saying that the most important thing is for parents to be aware of what is happening in their kids’ lives. Staff at hospitals and clinics, as well as parents and educators, need to be aware of the signs of mental health concerns and actively encourage parents to seek help from a licensed professional for their child if they notice significant changes in behavior, drop in grades, changes in physical appearance (such as weight loss or gain), disengagement in interests or friends or signs of hopelessness. Parents should model that when help is needed, it is okay to ask.

“Preventative care and real conversations are the keys to tackling the uptick in youth suicides,” said Cauthen. “If a child is in immediate danger from suicide, they should be taken to the nearest emergency room. However, we shouldn’t allow it to get to that point—intervention should take place long before. We need to show kids that mental health matters and it is okay to feel big emotions but when those feelings get too big to handle, ask for help.”

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Canopy Children’s Solutions encourages healthcare providers across the state to provide patients and families with resources about mental health treatment and screenings as well as listings for the National Suicide Lifeline where individuals can access free, confidential crisis support 24 hours a day.

ABOUT CANOPY CHILDREN’S SOLUTIONS Canopy’s mission is to help children thrive and families overcome extraordinary challenges by providing a comprehensive continuum of behavioral health, educational, and social service solutions. For more than 100 years, Canopy has provided innovative solutions to many of Mississippi’s most vulnerable youth. Today, we have grown into a robust network of statewide programs. Learn more at

The article appeared in the Mississippi Hospital Association‘s Mississippi Hospitals Volume 25, Fall 2019 edition.

My Canopy Story, everyone has one….

“I started working at Canopy six years ago this week.  Fully oblivious about children’s mental health.  Fully unaware of the struggles many families have.  Didn’t understand how many kids suffer daily from trauma, neglect, fear, a sickness they can’t control.

“Six years later… Every day, I am truly amazed of each mission-driven employee and very, very proud to work for Canopy. When others find out I work for Canopy, so many come to me for help for their child or another child they know in desperate need of help. I proudly refer them to one of our many solutions. I am happy to tell the world about the great work each of our staff does every day …. about the 30,000 lives that have been transformed in the last 6 years (5,000 kids/year) since I began my own commitment to helping children thrive.

Show your support for change and transformation with your own Canopy butterfly specialty tag!

“Mental health affects every family in Mississippi, including mine. Without Canopy, I wouldn’t have the knowledge (and honestly, the courage) to get my teen help when she needed it. To know that many kids are struggling and need someone to help them heal. No child or family should have to face mental health alone. Today, 1 in 5 youth face a mental health challenge, but fewer than 20 percent ever get the help they need.

“I hope you take a moment to commit to at least one Canopy license plate for your family.  I have committed two.  My 16 year old is excited to represent our butterfly as well–that’s it’s ok to not be okay but recognize help is available.  I am proud to display the Canopy butterfly and be an ambassador for children’s health everywhere. I hope you will join me in purchasing one today.” –Ashley, Canopy Children’s Solutions team member

Canopy Specialty TagClick here to register your Canopy License Plate today.

You may also submit your order by mail with this Specialty Tag Order Form. The cost is $31–all proceeds go to help Mississippi kids thrive!

Are You Ready for the Butterfly Ball?

Canopy’s inaugural Butterfly Ball is just a few short weeks away! This first-of-its-kind event is the only gala designed to help raise funds and awareness for children’s mental health needs in Mississippi.

The event’s Steering Committee has been hard at work to create a premier event that will have a lasting impact on children throughout Mississippi. Special thank you for all the time, talent and effort put into making this event one-of-a-kind.

If you aren’t able to attend, the silent auction will be hosted ONLINE, providing ample opportunity to anyone who wants to join in on this special evening. The online auction will go LIVE in early October; check back here to see what incredible items we have available.

We are also immensely grateful to our Host Committee members for their personal commitment to helping children overcome extraordinary challenges. They have also been instrumental in bringing together members of the community who have a passion for supporting children’s issues. Thank you!

Lastly, this event would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and hosts! Trustmark graciously stepped up as our presenting sponsor and their team has been wonderful supporters of our mission and great to work with. We would like to recognize and thank each of the amazing entities and individuals who are committed to providing opportunities and resources to Mississippi’s most vulnerable youth:

We look forward to seeing all these efforts come to fruition for this beautiful evening celebrating kids and the champions who create opportunities for children to thrive.

Butterfly Ball General Admission Tickets Now Available

Our 2019 Butterfly Ball will be a night to celebrate the success and mission of Canopy Children’s Solutions. We are excited to extend an invitation for the public to attend. A limited number of general admission tickets are available, so please don’t delay in securing your tickets if you wish to attend.

Click Here to Purchase Tickets

This event, to be held at the Country Club of Jackson on October 12, will be the first gala of its kind devoted to raising much-needed funding and awareness for mental and behavioral health for kids. Canopy Children’s Solutions is proud to lead the effort to reduce stigma so that all children and families may get the help they need to become a success story.

This premiere event will feature a VIP cocktail reception, seated dinner, and silent and live auctions. Our emcees for the evening will be the esteemed Elise Jordan and Marshall Ramsey. The gala will be black tie optional.

EmceesIf you are unable to attend, there will be an opportunity to participate in our online auction in October. Stay tuned for more details!

BancorpSouth Makes Contribution to Canopy Children’s Solutions

BancorpSouth Bank (NYSE: BXS) announced today that it is increasing its 2019 contribution to $100,000 to Canopy Children’s Solutions, to benefit Mississippi’s children and families.

The contribution underscores BancorpSouth’s and BXS Insurance’s unwavering dedication to making a difference in its communities and will assist Canopy with its efforts to help children and families manage symptoms associated with mental and behavioral health.

“A part of our mission is to support the betterment of our communities, and this donation greatly speaks to that,” said BancorpSouth President – Gulfport, Mississippi Market Walt Pannell. “By supporting Canopy, we hope to help with its efforts to transform the lives of many families as they face difficult times.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 children—131,000 children in Mississippi—struggle with a treatable behavioral, emotional or mental health challenges at some point during their lives.

“It is a magnificent day for the children and families of the Mississippi Gulf Coast thanks to the gracious support of BancorpSouth,” said Canopy CEO John D. Damon, Ph.D. “This transformational gift buttresses the comprehensive array of behavioral health and social service solutions that we are honored to provide throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The foster care and mental health crisis facing children and families of the Gulf Coast and throughout Mississippi can only be addressed by a comprehensive approach that involves community leaders like BancorpSouth. We are thrilled to partner together to help children thrive and families overcome extraordinary challenges.”

The bank has donated a total of $100,000 this year to Canopy, as part of its continued support of the organization’s initiatives. Canopy, formerly Mississippi Children’s Home Services, is among the state’s largest nonprofit providers of children’s behavioral and mental health, educational and social service solutions. It serves more than 5,000 children each year in Mississippi’s 82 counties.

“We’re proud to support the tremendous efforts that Canopy is making. It has provided a way for children and families to get the services they need and have a better quality of life,” said Brad Maley, president – Jackson, Mississippi market for BancorpSouth and a volunteer board member and treasurer for Canopy Children’s Solutions.

The bank is participating in The Children’s Promise Act, which offers a dollar-for-dollar Mississippi tax credit to individuals and businesses for donations to eligible charitable organizations.

About BancorpSouth Bank

BancorpSouth Bank (NYSE: BXS) is headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi, with approximately $19 billion in assets.  BancorpSouth operates approximately 295 full-service branch locations as well as additional mortgage, insurance, and loan production offices in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas, including an insurance location in Illinois.  BancorpSouth is committed to a culture of respect, diversity, and inclusion in both its workplace and communities. To learn more, visit our Community Commitment page at; “Like” us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter@MyBXS; or connect with us through LinkedIn.

About Canopy Children’s Solution

Canopy Children’s Solutions’ mission is to help children thrive and families overcome extraordinary challenges.  Canopy serves over 5,000 children and their families annually through an array of behavioral health, educational and social service throughout Mississippi.  For more than 100 years, Canopy has provided innovative solutions to many of Mississippi’s most vulnerable youth. Learn more at


Antrenise Robinson

BancorpSouth Corporate Communications


The Talk Every Parent Needs to Have

Today’s culture has begun to undermine the magnitude of suicide. Much like violence, which is portrayed in movies, videogames and even cartoons, suicide is beginning to take on a similar trend in media attention and drama series such as 13 Reasons Why. It even trickles down to our youngest kids. How do we drive home the severity of this issue with our teens, tweens, and even elementary-aged children? We talk about it – openly, honestly and without holding back the full ramifications of such a catastrophic decision.

When talking about suicide, keep the conversation age appropriate.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,300 youth in the U.S., ages 8 to 18, died by suicide in 2017. That number more than doubles when including individuals up to age 24. The Journal of American Medical Association states 2017 had the highest number of youth suicides of any year dating back to the 1960s. Kids are going to learn about suicide. Similar to “difficult topics” like sex and drugs, in order to control the suicide narrative, parents should start the conversation.

When talking about suicide, or any other difficult or complex subject, keep the conversation age appropriate. Give honest, understandable answers no matter what. Untruths can damage parent/child trust and discourage open communication in the future.

Conversation Starters

Experts suggest waiting until age seven or eight to approach the subject of suicide unless there is a reason why a child may hear about it sooner. If a friend, family member, or someone in the local community has died by apparent suicide, you may start by asking the child if they have heard anything about the person or if they have any questions.

“Particularly with children under age 10, you want to let the child lead the conversation,” said Monica Roberts, LPC, outpatient therapist at Canopy Children’s Solutions’ Center of Excellence. “Let their questions direct your information. Basic answers are best for younger kids, but always be honest.”

Involved parents are the biggest safeguards against suicide.

By the time children reach middle school, they need to know about stress, anxiety and depression, and the ways these emotions can make you feel. They also need to know these feelings are normal and nothing for which to be ashamed. Because this is the age when kids begin to feel the intensity of “big” and complex emotions, middle school is also when youth suicides make the biggest spike. Parents, teachers, coaches as well as youth this age should learn about the signs that someone might be struggling with suicidal thoughts or feelings.

“Involved parents are the biggest safeguards against suicide,” said Roberts. “You know when your child doesn’t seem himself. Getting professional help at the first sign can lessen the likelihood that a child will attempt suicide or adopt maladaptive coping behaviors such as self-harm or substance use. Parents need to know the signs of suicide. They should also discuss with their children that if they see those signs in peers, they need to tell a trusted adult immediately.”

Even if he or she says they are ok….Talk to them openly about how they plan to handle stress and failure when it arises.

The highest rates of teen suicide occur among the high school and college age individuals. It is important during this age to “check-in,” particularly if you know a teen is struggling or has a history of depression or anxiety. Even if he or she says they are ok, watch for changes in behavior, study their words and actions toward death, and make sure they have a support system they are comfortable talking with. Talk to them openly about how they plan to handle stress and failure when it arises.

If your teen is leaving for college, talk to him about available resources for support such as religious-based student organizations, residential advisors, the student health clinic and counseling center. Also remind them they can call you anytime, day or night.

Talking about suicide with your child is difficult, but having a child not understand the finality and severity of suicide and the wake it leaves is even more challenging. During September, recognized as National Suicide Prevention Month, take time to learn the signs of suicide and talk about it with your child. Remind him or her that suicide is not a joke and threats of suicide are not ploys for attention. If you see something, say something. Know that help is always available.

Suicide LifelineThe National Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects individuals with free, confidential crisis counseling to support individuals in distress.

Help is available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-8233.

Laura Walker is a staff writer for Canopy Children’s Solutions

This article originally appeared in the September 2019 edition of Parents & Kids Magazine. Click here to view the original link.

Canopy Names New Program Director for the State’s Only Private, Nonprofit Psychiatric Residential Center

Kim JordanCanopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy) proudly introduces Kim Jordan, MHSA, BSN, RN, CEN, as the new Program Director for the CARES Center psychiatric residential treatment facility in Jackson.

In the role of Program Director, Jordan oversees day-to-day operations of the CARES Center, which encompasses two campuses and serves up to a total of 60 children ages six to 17. She works alongside other CARES Center leaders and supervisors to develop programming, address challenges, and ensure the children of the CARES Center are receiving care that meets the individual needs of each child served.

Jordan joined Canopy in June 2017 as the Director of Nursing where she managed nursing staff for Canopy’s CARES Center. Prior to joining the organization, Jordan was a full-time emergency room nurse for more than a decade. She accredits this experience with equipping her with critical thinking and organizational skills and the ability to be flexible in serving needs as they arise.

An alumna of Mississippi College, Jordan received her Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2004 and is board certified in Emergency Medicine. Jordan completed her master’s in Healthcare Administration in 2018 from Mississippi College.

Jordan was born and raised in Brookhaven, where she and her family of four reside today. Away from work, she enjoys using her organizational skills to plan adventures and travel.

ABOUT CANOPY CHILDREN’S SOLUTIONS: Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy) offers an array of behavioral health, educational and social service solutions to children and families throughout Mississippi.  For more information about programs offered through Canopy, please visit or call 800-388-6247.