Cherokee Nation declares May National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker signs a proclamation declaring the month of May as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month while surrounded by Behavioral Health and Health Services staff and Sequoyah High School students.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker signs a proclamation declaring the month of May as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month while surrounded by Behavioral Health and Health Services staff and Sequoyah High School students.

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker recently signed a proclamation declaring the month of May as National Children’s Health Awareness Month.

The proclamation promotes children’s overall well-being and combats causes of childhood trauma. It also brings awareness to the tribe’s HERO Project initiative. “Helping Everyone Reach Out” offers parenting classes and small parenting groups in various tribal communities to act as resources for each other.

“I applaud the efforts made by the HERO Project to destigmatize mental health within the Cherokee Nation, and I am proud to declare May as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month,” Principal Chief Baker said. “Improved access to quality health care for our tribal citizens is the most important goal for the future of the Cherokee Nation, and that includes improving wellness in our minds as well as our bodies.”

Cherokee Nation’s HERO Project is holding a Children’s Mental Health Awareness Family Fun Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, at Norris Park, 400 N. Muskogee Ave., in Tahlequah.

The community event will include children’s games and inflatables, family activities and information from Cherokee Nation HERO Project, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Northeastern Association of Student Social Workers and more.

“All kids and families, at one point or another, struggle, and we’re just here to help them get through that struggle,” said HERO Project Manager Dallas Pettigrew. “More than anything, we want to help people in the communities reach out to support each other. What we know is that parents know more about parenting and how to take care of each other than we do. So we try to empower families and communities to take care of each other.”

HERO Project staff has helped develop several small parenting groups throughout the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. These groups not only share parenting advice amongst each other, but also work to provide family-friendly activities and promote child behavioral health awareness in their communities.

Each member of the HERO Project staff has education and experience in social work to provide resources, including Triple-P, a parenting education class focused on child behavior; HERO Builders, a parent support and information sharing group; and the program’s newest initiative, PAX Good Behavior Game, which is used in some area schools to help children reach valued goals.

For more information on the HERO Project or community parenting groups, call 918-772-4004.

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