JCK News vol. 3

Writer: Mike Esposito
Editor: Mike Esposito
Reader: Ione Saunders, John Tessitore, Mike Esposito
Producer: Mike Esposito

The Legends Program
“I want to advocate for mental health as a result of this talk. I want to help end the stigma.” — student at Grafton High School There’s no single piece of student feedback John and I are more proud of. As we wrap up our first ever set of JCK pilot programs, we want to thank Grafton High School, Southern Connecticut State University, the Summit School, Westchester Community College, IBM and WeWork for believing in the mission of John Cleaver Kelly. Believing that community, connection and compassion can build resilience. And believing that those tools are essential to the future of mental wellness in the high school to college to workplace pipeline. Without Jessica Hollis, Karla Koza, John Kelly (irony), Megan Sullivan, Denise Zack, Kat Granke, Frank Scattaretico, Josephine Guevarra, Hector Vargas, Patrick Sheehan, and Deborah Dolan we couldn’t have completed full 1-day Legends Programs at Grafton and SCSU, gave the keynote speech at the Out of the Darkness Walk at WCC, presented to IBM employees at the 88 University WeWork location or talked to students at Summit before their annual 5k run.

Interested in introducing us to your school district or campus? Click the button below to email [email protected]. We’re building our fall program schedule now!

Email MikeLearn More

The Legends Program (cont.)
We had simple goals for our pilot programs. We met many of them successfully and used constructive feedback from students, educators and administrators to plan out the next phase of our development — recruiting a group of volunteer social workers and counselors to accompany us on campus, hiring a part-time researcher to assist in data collection and designing a deeper interactive experience to convey the Mental Health Movement as one rooted in social justice. All are essential pieces to build to apply for grants to grow our staff. Goal 1: Curate a compassionate, accepting environment to discuss emotional wellness and mental health in “I loved the atmosphere of honesty and compassion. We all have our own stories and our difficulties do not make us any less worthy of love.”  Goal 2: Enhance understanding and awareness of existing resources on campus (i.e. counseling center) "I learned about self-love and recovery and also the power of support systems and what they can do.”  Goal 3: Build peer respect for students experiencing mental health stressors and disorders “It made me understand and sympathize with those affected and realize how strong they are.”  Goal 4: Show students it’s possible to thrive with a mental illness “It feels safe to know that things will get better.”  Goal 5: Explain the connection between emotional wellness, social cohesion and mental illness “[Learned to] not be so quick to isolate myself.”  Goal 6: Demonstrate that tools like community and connection are among the most powerful we have to building emotional resilience “I continue to believe that mental health is the baseline of human needs and this program has only enhanced my understanding in the different ways our mental health can be attacked.”  Goal 7: Bridge the gap between “sufferers and non-sufferers” to help push the Mental Health Movement forward and lean into conversations with each other “I want to advocate for mental health as a result of this talk. I want to help end the stigma.” 
One Smart Thing
During a question and answer session at a community event, someone in the back eloquently stated that we may not be able to pull every isolated student out of their room but we can start creating a culture of wellness where that student sees the benefits in not isolating. Or maybe a friend who knows what going on with their buddy now has the language and skill to guide that conversation themselves. It has to start somewhere and it has to be guided by a hands-on approach to programming.

Interested in introducing us to your school district or campus? Click the button below to email M[email protected]. We’re building our fall program schedule now!

Email MikeLearn More

The Legends Program will continue to be our #1 priority for the foreseeable future but we’ve been plenty busy growing other parts of the JCK Foundation to support that effort. Thanks to all our volunteers, hosts and donors — you know we can’t do this without you. 
Community Events
Our first 6 Kelly’s Heroes events really brought the community, the connection, the passion and the fundraising. Their efforts have helped the Foundation raise over $10k a month in 2019. Check out our Instagram (@JCKFoundation) to see photos and short stories from all the Kelly’s Heroes events. Also! 9th Annual Legends Tournament tickets are on sale through June 8th! Get yours below!

Collected Layers
Although the podcast and blog isn’t our main focus, we’ve attracted over 1.8k downloads this season, 500 just in the last 30 days. We ran a partnership with writer and podcaster Joseph Fusaro and reprised one of our favorite episodes on John Kelly’s birthday. Listen, subscribe, rate and comment on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Podbean (links are at the top of this page). 
JCK Clinic
John Kelly’s college buddy, Chris Grillo, was in Kabale, Uganda last week visiting Dr. Centinery Gervase and the other local Ugandans who operate the JCK Clinic. The clinic provides medical and basic psychiatric services to villagers in the area. We’re looking forward to hearing more about his trip when he returns! Here’s a few photos he snapped!

Summer Projects
This is an open call for volunteers! My good friend Bea and my cousin Jenna are tackling projects like building out our e-comm platform and helping us organize our layers of contacts into a CRM. We have an ambitious project list and we know we won’t get to all of them but if you have experience in the following and have some time to help, email us at [email protected] or [email protected] Organizing and executing press publicity campaigns, can provide nonprofit legal experience (pro bono hours!), have social work experience and want to volunteer during our fall programs, accounting software and migration experience. 
Interesting Content
Historian Anne Harrington discussed the troubled search for the biology of mental illness with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. Skip to part 4 of this episode of The Takeaway to hear Maryse Richards and Sandro Galea talk about the link between gun violence, trauma and suicide plus a look at the preventative nature of social cohesion.