EveryDay Strong: Orem proclaims the importance of children’s mental health
On Monday, the city of Orem became the first EveryDay Strong community.
Mayor Richard Brunst signed a proclamation expressing Orem City’s commitment to helping all kids feel safe, connected, and confident.
In the official proclamation, he wrote: “We commit to be an EveryDay Strong City in support of this county-wide movement to assist parents, adults, teachers, and neighbors in caring for the children in their lives, building feelings of safety, connection, and confidence, and aiding them in overcoming difficult feelings of anxiety, depression, and all manner of internal and emotional struggle.”
Further, he wrote, “we commit to learning and growing as stewards of our community on how we can each individually be EveryDay Strong; we commit to supporting our community schools in their efforts to be EVERYDAY STRONG; and we commit to spreading the EveryDay Strong knowledge and skills among all citizens of our great community.”
It is encouraging and inspiring to see many community leaders recognize the importance of good mental health in children. The 2017 Student Health Assessment of Risk and Prevention (SHARP) survey shows that 25% of Utah County middle and high schoolers have felt so sad or depressed for two weeks or more that they stopped doing some of their usual activities. This number has dramatically increased over the last few years; in 2011, only 13% said they felt this way. There’s good reason for all of us to be concerned.
The city of Orem’s leadership in speaking out about this issue and making a commitment to do their part to address it is inspiring and motivating. We know from research that any social issue takes a lot of people working together—you can’t turn the problem over to the schools to handle alone, or the parents by themselves. Instead, when many people from many sectors of society come together, we have a greater chance of truly making a difference.
Bill Hulterstorm, CEO of United Way of Utah County said, “My hope is that we help every child to have a better life. We live in a community where children should not be suffering. Children should be able to enjoy being children and young people should be able to enjoy being young people. My hope is that this community creates a happier, more fulfilled community of young people that will ultimately evolve into a great community of adults.”
He also acknowledged the role that adults can play, saying, “I have a vision where children are constantly reminded of how loved they are by their family and others, but also that they are sharing their gifts and talents and feel successful and fulfilled.”
Lastly, he added that it’s important the community equip families with the tools they need.
“I’m imagining a world where we give the parents, grandparents, and other caring adults the tools to support a child on a bad day that will help them ask better questions and help them understand how they can best support that child,” he said. “I’m envisioning that parents will feel like they are the first line of defense and that they actually have a connection with a child that no one else will ever have. I think that we are ultimately trying to give parents this sense of safety, connection, and confidence.”
Please join us in thanking the city of Orem for their leadership and vision and for speaking out about this important issue in our community.