CHICAGO — THRIVE, Maine’s trauma-informed System of Care Initiative, and G.E.A.R. Parent Network accepted the silver award in the Professional Outreach category for “Together we can build a bridge” July 21 at the 2011 Excellence in Community Communications and Outreach recognition ceremony sponsored by the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration’s Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health Campaign.

The public service announcement urges child-serving providers to be “trauma informed” and “strength based,” and also lets families of children with significant behavioral health issues know they are not alone, that help is available and “When you use your voice, you have a choice.”

“Our hometown bridges depict how isolated we felt when we first started out in a system,” said Rebecca Williamson. “Families want help, but may not know how to get it or how to ask for what they need.”

At the end of the video, the families stand together symbolizing the strength they’ve found in peer support and their readiness to use their own voice with child welfare, mental health and other providers.

“We want to bridge the abyss between us and them,” said Joy Hodgson, “and meet providers halfway. We want them to listen to us and not judge us, to learn from us instead of trying to fix us. That way, our meetings can support an interchange of experiences and be cultural learning opportunities with the shared goal of getting our child’s needs met.”

“Bridge” has been viewed 1000 times to date on You Tube, and been broadcast by 40 community-access TV stations to more than 3.5 million homes in 70 Maine communities, 13 other states, South Africa and New Zealand. It has been presented by members of Family Advisory Councils for Empowerment Statewide to hundreds of providers and service agencies at the state and local level throughout Maine.

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