Sarkey’s Foundation contributes $400,000 to program improving students mental health


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Schools all over the state are prepping for the return to school during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

For one of our state’s largest districts, mental health of teachers and students is also a concern.  

“We know that as they’re away from their teachers and away from each other and what they would think about as kids, being normal a normal school setting, that has an impact on them,” said OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel. 

“Just the fact that some of our kids have been isolated at home if you have a child that already suffers from anxiety issues… it just contributes to that anxiety,” added Debby Hampton, President and CEO of United Way of Central Oklahoma. 

The Sarkey’s foundation is donating $400,000 to ‘EmbraceOKC,’ a program dedicating to supporting students’ behavioral health. 

“With the compact, United Way, the foundation the city the chambers and the schools we are coming together and saying you’re mental health matters to us. Your social and emotional wellness, that matters to us,” said Dr. McDaniel. 

Some students were already dealing with problems before the pandemic started. 

Now, COVID-19 is magnifying those. 

“Now even studies are saying 30 percent of kids that have been self quarantined will suffer from PSTD so this program is critical to the success of our kids,” said Hampton. 

The money will go toward services like counseling and family outreach. 

It’s also allowing the district to be prepared. 

 “When kids come back to us, we have to be very good at evaluating where they are … what is their mental health status? What is that social and emotional learning status that they comeback to us with?” said Dr. McDaniel. 

OKCPS has already trained 3,000 teachers on how to recognize of mental health issues virtually or in the classroom. 

With this grant money, they’re hoping to keep the ball rolling. 

“This is something that will help them and impact them for their entire life,”  said Hampton. 

For more information on EmbraceOKC you can visit OKCPS’s website.

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