Making behavioral health services more accessible through telepsychiatry.

TelepsychiatryAs the name suggests, telepsychiatry delivers behavioral health services across a distance through technology, usually through a computer or video conferencing system.  Swope Behavioral Health introduced this service in 2018 and patients are embracing it.

“Most of our patients are comfortable speaking with a provider on a screen,” said Dr. Nallu Reddy, Chief of Psychiatry at Swope Health. “Children are particularly open to it, since they have grown up with this technology.”

Patients come to Swope Health for their telepsychiatry session, where a nurse checks the patient in and records vital signs. The sessions occur in a private room equipped with a video camera and large television monitor.

Video Chatting

Although video chatting via Facebook Messenger, FaceTime or Skype is commonplace, telepsychiatry is still in its infancy, though it is evolving for use in many settings, such as rural healthcare facilities; in emergency rooms; nursing homes; correctional institutions; schools; hospitals and military treatment facilities.

“One day, we will have the capability of visiting patients in their homes with portable equipment for vitals and tele-sessions, but solving the logistics of individual visits is much farther in the future,” said Dr. Reddy.

Currently, Dr. Reddy and her team are concentrating on developing partnerships with area residential treatment facilities, group homes and schools. The goal is to send a Swope Health nurse to these facilities to take vitals and facilitate individual tele-sessions for multiple patients during the time he or she is on-site.

“This would be efficient for us and convenient for patients because they would not have to physically come to a Swope Health location,” said Dr. Reddy.

The American Psychiatric Association

According to the American Psychiatric Association, telepsychiatry allows for direct interaction between the psychiatrist and the patient. It can include evaluations, therapy, group or individual counseling, patient education and medication management. The technology improves access to psychiatry services, reducing transportation barriers and often, reducing delays in scheduling.

In addition, research has shown that telepsychiatry is especially effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD). Some people even prefer telepsychiatry to in-person encounters for the feelings of safety, security and privacy it offers.

At Swope Health, three psychiatrists provide tele-sessions for patients:  Dr. Reddy; Dr. Khursheed Zia, who formerly practiced at Swope Health Central but now lives in Houston; and Dr. Charles Schwartz, who resides in New York.  Dr. Reddy is poised to increase her tele-staff as demand for the service increases.

“About 10 percent of our patients are using the telepsychiatry service,” said Dr. Reddy.  “In most cases, they were seen faster than those patients who were scheduled for traditional sessions.”

Dr. Reddy and her team plan to educate Swope Health patients about telepsychiatry and increase the number who access this service for the flexibility and immediacy it provides.

Like more information? Contact Swope Health Behavioral Services at 816-922-1070 to request an appointment.

Question, Persuade and Refer: Steps to Prevent Suicide

Each year, more than 41,000 people die by suicide, leaving grief-stricken and broken-hearted family, and friends, and community members in their wake.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) designated September as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to call attention to the issue of suicide. At Swope Health, suicide prevention is a regular part of the conversation between associates and patients.

Suicidal Thoughts

“Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone at any time,” said Carla Lee, Patient Community and Education Specialist at Swope Health. “These thoughts can come to anyone, at any age, regardless of gender, social or economic status. But that doesn’t mean it’s normal.”

Suicidal thoughts are a signal indicating more serious behavioral health conditions, she said. That’s why Swope Health associates are trained in the latest proven techniques to identify issues early, encourage treatment and take steps to help prevent suicides.


QPROne technique is QPR – for Question, Persuade and Refer. The QPR Institute was established to teach this approach, which is accredited by the National Registry of Evidence-Based Practices and Policies, an agency of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

The QPR Institute compares its program to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or the Heimlich Maneuver, both of which are widely taught and empower individuals to help save thousands of lives each year. People trained in QPR learn to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and perform an emergency mental health intervention.

Kevin Hines

Kevin HinesA second program at Swope Health introduced caregivers to Kevin Hines, who attempted suicide in 2000 by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Remarkably, he survived, and his story gained widespread media coverage, including stories on ABC, CNN and The Today Show. He now advocates for suicide prevention and has successfully lobbied for the installation of a net to prevent future suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Hines has appeared at more than 5,000 high school and college campuses to share his talk, “Triumph over Adversity: The Kevin Hines Story.” He has written a book (Cracked Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt) and launched a non-profit organization that provides funding and education for suicide prevention. In 2019, he released a documentary, “Suicide: The Ripple Effect.”

His message is simple and consistent: “Suicide is never the solution.”

Carla agrees.

“Place your hand over your heart. Can you feel it?” she asks. “That is called purpose. You are alive for a reason, so do not ever give up. Remember, I care. Swope Health cares.”

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact Swope Health at 816-923-5800. Or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you are uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

WhyCare?Why care? is part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness campaign to encourage support for the one in five adults who experience mental illness each year.

Stop Exploitation of Vulnerability

Russ Tuttle

Russ Tuttle, president and founder of the Stop Trafficking Project, is also the director for “Be Alert” program, which educates and empowers students and guides adults from awareness to action. He is also leading a series of programs for healthcare workers at Swope Health.

When Russ Tuttle gives a presentation on sex trafficking, he enters the room like a man on a mission. Which he is.

He talks fast, telling story after story full of pain and suffering. He rattles off statistics, illustrating his tales with images, infographics and videos. He always comes back to the pain sex trafficking produces, and how it can be stopped.

Russ, president and founder of a not-for-profit organization called the Stop Trafficking Project, works every day to spread information about the issue of sex trafficking of minors in Kansas City. He is delivering a series of programs to caregivers at Swope Health, helping caseworkers and other healthcare professionals learn about the problem and how to intervene.

Through the “Be Alert” program, Russ and his organization deliver presentations to schools, churches, law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers and community groups. He estimates 5,280 students and 3,100 adults have participated in one of the Be Alert student assemblies held between January and March 2019. He has reached more than 40,000 students since the program started in 2015.

Russ’s Be Alert program delivers messages of awareness and prevention. He believes that when students, parents, caregivers and the community are educated and empowered, there is a fighting chance of making a positive impact.

What is trafficking? “Human trafficking is always the exploitation of vulnerability,” he says. This is a phrase he repeats throughout his talk, encouraging the class to say it with him as a way of driving the point home.

How can trafficking happen? It starts with a child who feels alone, can be manipulated, lacks self-esteem, or perceives they are unattractive or different. The trafficker earns a moment of trust and then gains control of the child.  The control might be a compromising photo followed by threats of telling parents or distributing the photo at school, he said. From there, the demands escalate and the child feels trapped, self-blaming, depressed or hopeless.  The traffickers prey upon those feelings, deepening a bond with the victim.

Sex Trafficking infoDoes it happen here? Yes. Based on his surveys of area students, Russ said 26 percent are engaged in activities online that make them vulnerable to predators. Additionally, 75 percent of students surveyed have seen pornography, including some as young as age 8.  Pornography is presented as “training” to vulnerable kids, he said.

Who would exploit a child for sex trafficking? Russ said it could be a family member, boyfriend, employer, friend of the family, or a stranger. He noted the influence of social media makes it easier for children and teens to encounter traffickers who disguise themselves to earn the child’s trust. The common disguises:

  • Pretender: one who acts like a boyfriend, father figure, big sister
  • Provider: one who offers clothing, food, cool items
  • Promiser: one who talks of future gifts, travel, a new lifestyle
  • Protector: one who offers physical power or intimidation to help
  • Punisher: one who uses violence or threats to take control

Why does it happen? “There are sex sellers willing to sell kids because there are sex buyers for those kids,” Russ said, noting the problem may be larger than the numbers indicate.

“Since this is the crime hidden in plain sight, many domestic minor sex trafficking – or DMST – cases don’t show up as that officially,” Russ said. “They often become abuse cases, domestic violence, or more often than not some kind of child pornography case. Part of the reason for the porn charges is because the images are almost always shared in DMST, but also because the penalties are more strict. And it’s easier to prove in court and takes less time to investigate for law enforcement.”

United States Trafficking NumbersWhat can I do? If you suspect a child is being abused, please take action:

To learn more about the issue of sex trafficking of minors:

Visit Sex Trafficking Intervention Research Center, University of Arizona: includes resources and training materials for parents and teens

Hidden in Plain Sight

Russ Tuttle

Russ Tuttle, president and founder of the Stop Trafficking Project, is also the director for “Be Alert” program, which educates and empowers students and guides adults from awareness to action. He is also leading a series of programs for healthcare workers at Swope Health.

Kansas City has a problem, but it is one you might not have heard about. Russ Tuttle wants to change that.

The problem is sex trafficking of minors. It happens when vulnerable children are exploited for sexual abuse, typically by an adult posing as a caregiver, protector or trusted friend offering acceptance or support.

Russ, president and founder of a not-for-profit organization called the Stop Trafficking Project, works every day to spread information about the issue in Kansas City. He is delivering a series of programs to caregivers at Swope Health, helping caseworkers and other healthcare professionals learn about the problem and how to intervene.

“As a healthcare provider, Swope Health is a ‘mandatory reporter’,” said Sabrina Holliman, Compliance Officer. “That means associates are obligated to report any concerns of abuse and neglect.”

“We train our associates that if they have suspicions of abuse, even if they’re not sure, it’s better to report it and do so quickly,” she said.

Human Trafficking Hotline

Associates report suspected abuse using an incident report form or calling the Human Trafficking Hotline, which coordinates with the appropriate law enforcement agency. An additional report goes to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, if the patient is under the care of the Behavioral Health department.

Swope Health also has recently added posters in all restrooms with information about human trafficking. They include important phone numbers for victims to call for help.

“We want our patients to feel safe in coming to us,” she said. “We care and we can help.”

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that at least 100,000 U.S. children are exploited in prostitution every year. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 72 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2018 in Missouri, the latest report available. Of those, 53 were sex trafficking cases.

“There are sex sellers willing to sell kids because there are sex buyers for those kids,” Russ said, noting the problem may be larger than the numbers indicate.

Law enforcement officials know that demand drives sex trafficking, Russ said.

Sex Trafficking infoSome evidence:

  • In 2009, a law enforcement sting operation in Kansas City advertised young girls for sex and drew more than 500 calls in the first 24 hours.
  • Children’s Mercy Hospital ranks in the top 5 percent in the volume of sexual assault victims seen each year in the U.S.
  • The Arizona State University’s Sex Trafficking Intervention and Research Center, which serves as a national source for research and intervention training, in a 2013 study estimated that 14.5 percent of the male population in the Kansas City region age 18 or older participated in online shopping for sex.

If you suspect a child is being abused, please take action:

To learn more about the issue of sex trafficking of minors:

In our next blog: Learn more about how vulnerable children are exploited by sex traffickers and what you can do to help prevent abuse.

Swope Health’s Employment Service helps find “Dream Jobs” for clients

In March 2017, Swope Health started a new employment program for clients with the support of the State of Missouri’s Vocational Rehabilitation Service. In the first year, the program successfully placed 55 clients.

IPS Supported Employment

Swope Health Employment Service

The Swope Health Employment Services team, from left, is Janelle Strozier, Brandon Ford, Ron Knisley, Kelli Fisher, and LaShelle Ross. Kelli is the supervisor for the team of four employment specialists.

The program, called IPS Supported Employment, helps people with behavioral health conditions find competitive employment. The IPS in the name stands for “Individualized Placement Support,” meaning the program assists with finding a position that aligns specifically with the client’s needs and preferences.

Kelli Fisher, Swope Health Employment Services Supervisor, said the process starts with a referral from a case manager. If a client’s care plan includes an employment goal, the client is directed to the program.

“If a client wants to work, we work with them to find a job,” she said.

The team works under a rapid placement approach, typically getting a client in a position within 60 days – far faster than some job programs that can take months.

The Process

When a client is referred, a member of the employment services team meets with them to develop a vocational profile. The client identifies at least three areas of employment they are interested in – retail, construction, administrative functions, environmental services, food service, health care, etc.

The next step is a meeting with Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, to get approval for joining the state’s program. Clients are required to provide two forms of Identification such as a Missouri I.D., birth certificate, social security card or a passport. With approvals in place, the Swope Health team works to make the client’s goals a reality.

“The best is when a client says, ‘This would be my dream job,’” said Ron Knisley, Employment Specialist with Swope Health. “We call that ‘job carving’ when they can identify the perfect fit. We love that. It gets us excited to make it happen. We like the thrill of the chase.”

Ron notes the team has successfully placed clients in dream jobs: one who wanted to be around animals now works in a veterinarian’s clinic. Another client who enjoyed the open road found a job driving a truck.  Others have found dream jobs in administrative office work and as a hostess at a local restaurant.

The team helps the client prepare for the job search – using work history to build a resume, write a cover letter, and get ready for the first interviews.

The program can also provide some financial support, like funding for gas cards or bus passes, or clothing for the interview. If the client gets the job, the support can continue – buying a uniform or helping with necessary certifications or licensing fees.

Program Expansion

The early success of the program is leading to expansion. The team now has four employment specialists, each working with up to 25 clients at a time.

Kelli said the four team members use their own network of contacts and relationships with area employers to find full-time or part-time positions for clients. That network now has a multitude of employer contacts, and many of them reach out to Swope Employment first when they have an open employment opportunity.

The client support doesn’t end with the job placement. The support may include attending orientation with the client and helping sign up for benefits, or following up with the employer and client after a week on the job. It might entail coaching or providing feedback to improve job performance, or help with financial planning. Ron noted the team provides ongoing support for up to one year after placement.

When it works, the good feelings spread to everyone: the employer, client and the team.

“It is absolutely priceless to see someone get their first paycheck ever,” Ron said. “We see their confidence go from zero to 50 all at once. What a difference a job makes.”

Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month

Respect LogoMay is Mental Health Awareness Month, as designated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization that advocates and supports Americans with mental illness. To mark the observance, the Respect Institute will host the Fifth Annual “Respect for Mental Health Awareness” program, 5:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 7 at the Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City.

The program is free and open to everyone. Swope Health, along with other metro area healthcare providers, will be on hand to share information about resources for mental health.

The keynote speaker will be Rachel O’Brien, a board-certified music therapist with Truman Medical Centers.

In addition, a number of speakers from the Respect Institute will share their personal stories about mental illness and recovery. The program also features a panel discussion between a crisis intervention officer of the Kansas City Police Department, a therapist, a minister and a teacher. The program encourages people to talk about mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

Respect Institute

2019 Mental Health Awareness EventThe Respect Institute, launched in 2010 through the Missouri Department of Mental Health, teaches individuals who have mental illnesses to share their personal stories of recovery with public audiences. The hope is to foster a better public understanding of mental illness and related issues.

The institute trains about 10 to 15 individuals a year, and facilitates presentations to public groups including those at high schools, churches, probation offices, shelters and civic organizations. Over the years, the institute has trained 60 people and about 35 currently are available to speak.

Kansas City’s chapter of the Respect Institute is the largest in the state, largely due to the activity of the three local leaders – Trena Fowler of the Center for Behavioral Medicine; Kellie Sullivan of Truman Medical Centers; and Ruthe Workcuff of Swope Health.

“I like to remind people we are all on a mental health continuum, and we don’t know what traumatic experience might knock us off balance at any moment,” Ruthe said. “I always tell people about the Ten Commandments of good mental health.”

Participants from the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Comprehensive Mental Health Services, ReDiscover, Tri-County Mental Health Services Inc., and Truman Medical Centers will also participate at the Respect celebration.

Mental Health Facts in America InfographicTen Commandments of Good Mental Health

  • Think positively. It’s easier!
  • Cherish the ones you love.
  • Continue learning as long as you live.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Exercise daily. It enhances your well-being.
  • Do not complicate your life unnecessarily.
  • Try to understand and encourage those around you.
  • Do not give up. Success in life is a marathon.
  • Discover and nurture your talents.
  • Set goals for yourself and pursue your dreams.


Swope Health Artist Featured in 9th Annual Expressions Art Exhibit [VIDEO]

Artist Antwan PettisSnakes and spiders give most of us the creeps, but for Antwan Pettis, they are his inspiration and reason behind two of his passions: art and gardening. For those brave enough to come face to face with a snake, you’ll want to check out his artwork now on display as part of The Whole Person’s  9th Annual Expressions Art Exhibit.

Antwan participates in both the gardening and arts programs as part of Swope Health’s Adult Day Program. Here, he finds safe, supportive outlets for his energy, creativity and curiosity.

Kansas City Young Audiences

One of his images – a close-up illustration of the deadly puff adder snake – was recently selected by a panel of art experts to be included in the exhibit at Kansas City Young Audiences, 3732 Main St., Kansas City, MO. The exhibit showcases artists with disabilities, celebrating their abilities and unique talents.

The show adds diversity to the Kansas City arts community and introduces audiences to art that otherwise might not be presented. The ninth annual exhibit will run at various locations throughout the community through February 2020. Antwan’s art, like the others on display, is available for sale after the show ends.

Swope Health Arts Program

In the arts program, part of the Adult Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), led by Carolyn Graves, Community Support Specialist, Antwan learned a variety of techniques for drawing and working with markers, pastels and chalk. Combining his love of snakes, spiders, insects and reptiles with his art, he found a productive way to fuel both passions – as exemplified in his work in the exhibit.

Pettis Puff AdderWhy a puff adder?

“I think it’s a very fascinating snake because of its patterns and its dual venom,” Antwan said. “It looks just like the rocks and debris it lives in. And it is both hemotoxic and neurotoxic.” Antwan explains that the snake’s venom attacks the blood as well as the nervous system of its prey. He learned about puff adders and related snakes in school, and is quick to note that he is always learning more.

Volunteering at Lakeside Nature Center

As a volunteer at Lakeside Nature Center for the last six years, he frequently works with birds of prey and wild animals. His goal is to become a reptile rehabilitator – one who works with injured reptiles.

Part of his learning process involves personal research. He enjoys visiting area woods with his friends, where they look for snakes in the wild. If he finds any, he identifies the species and its gender, he measures it and estimates its age, and takes a picture. He keeps a detailed record of his findings.

His interests in gardening also ties back to his fascination with insects and reptiles. When he learned that a friend’s rhinoceros iguana enjoys vegetables, he decided to take his share of eggplant and tomatoes from the Swope Health Day Program’s garden to the iguana.

Drawing Comic Books

In addition to his interest in reptiles, he also draws comic books, sometimes featuring mythological beasts like Cerberus or the Hydra.  Antwan said he always enjoyed drawing and began developing his skills in high school under the attention of a caring art teacher.

Lenise James, Community Support Specialist, notes that Antwan has exhibited artwork before, at the Creations of Hope Gallery in Topeka, part of the Valeo Behavioral Health Care Center, as well as at the Midwest Ability Summit, an expo for the metro area organizations serving people with disabilities and older adults, as well as families, caregivers and healthcare professionals. He has also exhibited and sold items at the Swope Health Holiday Mart.

You can find more examples of artwork produced by Antwan and other participants in the art program at Swope Heath Services, 3801 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Mo., on exhibit in the main hallway of Building C.

Child Abuse Prevention: All Children Deserve Great Childhoods

National Child Abuse Prevention

National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, while promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families.

At Swope Health, you can find events each week in April – all designed to increase awareness, provide education, and offer support and resources to prevent child abuse and neglect. Here is the rundown of activities:

Week 1

National Child Abuse Prevention: Blue PinwheelsFind blue pinwheels in front of Swope Health Central on Blue Parkway in Kansas City, Mo. Since 2008, the pinwheel has been a symbol for the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign.

“These pinwheels represent the great childhoods all children deserve and the prevention efforts that help them happen,” said Margaux Lemmones, Clinical Supervisor for Children’s Therapy and Adolescent Substance Use Disorder.

Friday, April 5, is the National Go Blue Day – a day to wear blue as a reminder of the importance of taking action to prevent child abuse. At Swope Health, staffers wearing National Child Abuse Prevention T-shirts will gather for a group photo, standing together to support prevention efforts.

Week 2

On Friday, April 12, associates from the Behavioral Health department will set up a table in the lobby of Swope Health Central, 3801 Blue Parkway, in Kansas City, Mo. to share information on ways to prevent child abuse. Visitors to the table will receive a pinwheel (while supplies last) along with materials like self-care for parents, resources for parents, important phone numbers and educational materials.

Week 3

For Swope Health associates, there will be a special program teaching ways to prevent child abuse from occurring and the importance of self-care for parents/caregivers/direct care providers that work with children.

Week 4

On Friday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Behavioral Health associates will host an art activity in the Children’s Conference Room on the second floor.  Anyone who stops by can participate in an art activity to decorate a hexagon. At the end of the day, all the hexagons will be compiled together, interlinked.

“It’s a great reminder that each of us is a part of something greater, and we are all part of a community that cares about keeping kids safe,” said Margaux. “Each life touches the lives of others and, when we work together, we can prevent child abuse.”

During the month of April and throughout the year, Swope Health also runs a Caregiver Support Group that focuses on teaching how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a predictor of being at greater risk for alcoholism, depression, drug use, financial stress, suicide attempts, and more.

The support group helps caregivers understand how their own traumas may affect the way they parent, Margaux said. The group promotes self-care and healing for the caregivers as a way to break generational cycles of abuse.

“We want to create healthy environments for families to thrive,” Margaux said.

If you have questions about preventing child abuse or neglect, call 816-777-9892 to talk with one of the Swope Health Behavioral Health associates about resources or services.

Additional Resources from the Children’s Bureau:

The Children’s Bureau, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sponsors the annual Child Abuse Prevention Month activities nationally. The organization also provides resources and information on ways to improve the lives of children:

Mission Possible: The Best Champs Holiday Party Ever!

ScriptPro, a Kansas City-area company that provides pharmacy software, robotics and management programs, has taken on a new task this quarter.

ScriptProThe company’s employees, part of a program called Community Connection, are putting on a holiday party for the SHS Champs program.

“We love giving back,” said Erin Pagel, Manager of Strategic Pharmacy Services at ScriptPro, “and it’s important to our employees to give back locally.”

The Community Connection team surveyed the approximately 800 ScriptPro employees and found a passion for children’s needs, fighting hunger, supporting cancer research and caring for animals.

The team partnered with Harvesters, Kansas City’s community food network, in the first quarter of 2018; with PurpleStride, a non-profit that raises funds and awareness of pancreatic cancer, in the second quarter; and with KC Pet Project in the third quarter.

For the fourth quarter and the holiday season, the company looked for a way to support children in need. Since the company already had a connection with SHS – the  Swope Health Services Pharmacy uses ScriptPro products – it was an easy decision to host the party for the kids in the Champs program.

ScriptPro Planning Team

The ScriptPro-SHS planning team at an October meeting, from left: Joi Franklin, Electrical Quality Assurance Technician II at ScriptPro; Amy Kuhnlein, SHS Manager of Development and Community Affairs; Kristen Meschede, Customer Communications Manager at ScriptPro; Elgie Hurd, SHS Supervisor, CPRP; Tiffany Clinton, SHS Supervisor, CPRP; and Erin Pagel, Manager, Strategic Pharmacy Services at ScriptPro.

Champs is a monthly youth group for children aged 5 to 17 who are enrolled in the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), said Tiffany Clinton, Community Support Supervisor.

The program serves an average of 50 children each month with different life-skills topics and age-appropriate activities.

The children in the Champs program face numerous challenges, including physical and verbal aggression, impulsivity, maintaining focus in the classroom, suspensions, struggles with depression, and homicidal or suicidal thoughts, Tiffany said.

Some children are in the family court system and others have received inconsistent care with medication and treatment plans. Some have been hospitalized for mental illness and related issues.

“These kids face issues no child should have to face,” Tiffany said.

ScriptPro’s Community Connection team agrees, and intends to create a memorable and fun celebration for the Champs kids.

For the party, the team will convert the activity rooms in Building C into a “Winter Wonderland,” with a Christmas tree and activity stations featuring cookie and cupcake decorating, ornament making, making and decorating goodie bags and other crafts.

The team’s plans include a Karaoke station, a snowman bowling game (think of a snowball knocking down snowman pins), and a station for temporary tattoos. A costumed Olaf, the snowman from “Frozen” movie fame, also will be at the party on Dec. 19, 2018.

There will be a photo booth, and kids can use the photos to create personalized ornaments to take home. The celebration will include a meal, as well as personalized holiday gifts for each.

ScriptPro Competition

Kaitlin Xouris, ScriptPro Digital Brand Strategist, is participating in ScriptPro’s Toy Drive for SHS Champs participants and Toys for Tots. There’s a competition at ScriptPro to see which member of the leadership team can bring in the most toys. In early December, Bill Thomas, ScriptPro’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, was in the lead over Lindsey McDonald, Director of Product Configuration Management, Field Operations, and Tony Goble, Vice President, Customer Service. The winner of the competition gets the honor of dressing as Olaf, the snowman from Frozen, for one day.

The ScriptPro team held a friendly competition among departments to see which could bring in the most toys for the Champs program, Erin said.

“We want to make sure every kid gets at least one gift, if not more,” Erin said.

Putting on such a celebration takes a lot of volunteers. Erin noted that the team is working in three shifts: the first has employees who are doing the advance work of creating craft kits, baking the cookies and cupcakes for decorating, and designing the decorations for the activity room.

A second shift will handle the transformation of the room and set up all the activities. And the third shift will host the party and then clean up after the event.

More than 30 employees signed up to participate in the first week alone.

“We are so excited to partner with ScriptPro for this event,” Tiffany said. “The amazing generosity and spirit of the ScriptPro team will help create a special holiday event for our kids.”

Would you like to support the Champs program? Donations are always welcome, either in cash or assistance with programming items – like hygiene kits, daily planners, or craft supplies. Contact Shantelle Wells (816-599-5252, or Jaclyn Powell (816-599-5243, for more information. 

KCCAN! Supports SHS Champs

Here’s a big shout-out to KCCAN! (Kansas City Children’s Assistance Network), which has provided an $11,000 grant to the Champs program at Swope Health Services.

The Champs program is a monthly youth group for children ages 5 to 17 who are enrolled in the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), said Tiffany Clinton, Community Support Supervisor.

The program provides education on different life-skills and age-appropriate activities for an average of 50 children each month.

champs at work

Champs program members exercising creativity in an exercise, and some products from recent programs.

For example, an activity might include a community field trip, such as the October visit to a pumpkin patch for younger children or learning how to use the city bus system for older kids.

Topics are drawn from the Daily Living Assessment-20, a behavioral health care tool that measure aspects of daily life that might be impacted by trauma, mental illness, disability or behavioral disorder.

Programs are held after school, usually from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and often include physical activity.

The goal for all of the programs is to help participants develop skills in self-sufficiency, independence, and confidence to live meaningfully in the community.

The sessions use role-playing and behavior modeling in real-life situations. The programs might touch on topics like anger and emotions and include coping skills.

Participants are provided with resources to continue working on life skills at home. For example, a program on grooming and hygiene might provide the kids with soap, toothpaste and other supplies, while a program on time management might include a daily calendar and planner book.

“This grant will enable us to do things for the kids that we haven’t been able to do,” Tiffany said. “It will give us options to think outside the box and add to the activities we already have.”

KCCAN is a not-for-profit organization focused on funding programs that improve the quality of life for Kansas City’s children, especially projects related to meeting basic needs, education and wellness.

At SHS, the KCCAN funds will be used for the monthly programs starting in 2019 and will also support the annual Thanksgiving and Holiday celebrations for the kids.

“Our kids in the Champs program face numerous challenges, including aggression, difficulty at school, struggles with depression, even homicidal or suicidal thoughts,” said Tiffany.

“Some are in the family court system and others have received inconsistent care. In short, these kiddos are facing issues no child should have to face. We’re so grateful to KCCAN for their support. We know this funding will help us improve the lives of the children we serve.”

Would you like to support the Champs program? Donations are always welcome, either in cash or assistance with programming items – like hygiene kits, daily planners, or craft supplies. Contact Shantelle Wells (816-599-5252, or Jaclyn Powell (816-599-5243, for more information. 


Champs provides programs on nutrition and healthy eating and includes foods to take home…