JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – Addiction, mental health, and getting help for area kids was highlighted during an important conversation this week at SUNY JCC.
It’s part of a push by Collaborative Children’s Solutions to break down barriers created by mental health stigma. To do that, locals have enlisted the help of a former NBA player.
Patrick Smeraldo, owner of Collaborative Children’s Solutions, teamed up with SUNY JCC and others to bring Chris Herren to speak to upwards of 1,200 children about addiction, mental health, and getting help.
“It’s a collaborative project that we’ve been working on, literally since March, to bring him back to share his substance message with the kids and his story with the kids,” said Smeraldo.
This is not the first time Herren has paid a visit to Chautauqua County, last year, he shared his story with students at Jamestown High School.
While many were suffering from issues prior to the pandemic, Smeraldo says it has gotten worse, especially for kids.
“Sometimes people have some difficult home situations they’re in and COVID kept them there more so what we really need to do is work with the kids and tell them, number one it’s okay not to be okay, the other thing is that we’re gonna build a system of care around you within all these schools to help you and to get you through so that you can eventually shine,” explained Smeraldo.
The organizer explains sometimes we have unrealistic expectations which impact our mental state.
“Sometimes we just need to check ourselves and take a break and that hasn’t always been the most either manly thing in the whole wide world or adult thing in the whole wide world, we’re supposed to be on point at all times, and we’re just not. We’re not built that way,” said Smeraldo.
In the end, Smeraldo really wants to give children the resources they need.
“We need to get to our youth, they’ve suffered and they continue to and there’s a lot of social issues and things now, not only with substances, but could lead to substance abuse, so before it gets to that, let’s offer them the hand that they need and go from there,” Smeraldo explained.