Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Our Sleeves®, the national movement for Children’s Mental Health, has launched the On Our Sleeves Alliance, a collection of national corporations and brands, youth and parent serving organizations, healthcare and educational organizations and individual ambassadors focused on empowering the mental health and wellness of every child in America.

In celebration of its launch, the On Our Sleeves Alliance has announced a powerful first project: to provide every community in America with free educational resources, setting an ambitious goal of reaching one million classrooms with On Our Sleeves content by Oct. 10, 2021, World Mental Health Day.

Stressors from the Covid-19 pandemic have weighed heavily on children, including those who have navigated remote learning, hybrid classrooms and new safety protocols that have kept them distanced from friends and family. Because of this interruption of traditional learning, behavioral health experts with On Our Sleeves want to equip teachers, counselors and school districts with the necessary inventory to boost the mental health and wellness of their students. With one in five children living with a mental condition and more than 50 percent of lifetime mental illnesses presenting by age 14, On Our Sleeves’ mission is to offer free tools for educators, parents and caregivers to help them start the important conversation about mental health with children and “How-To” guides on supporting the mental health needs for kids, developing healthy habits, mental fitness tips and more. 

How to Foster a Child’s Emotional Development” is a collection of resources educators and parents can use in the closing weeks of the current school year and year-round. Topics include information on expressing and sharing feelings, boosting mental wellness and self-care. Classroom resources for students in all grades can be downloaded here.

Big Lots, a neighborhood discount retailer and a founding member of the On Our Sleeves Alliance, will be supporting this initiative by promoting free mental health curriculum resources to over 100,000 teachers nationwide, helping to meet the On Our Sleeves’ goal of reaching over one million classrooms by October. With stores in 47 states, Big Lots has been a national champion for the movement since 2016. Big Lots has made a multi-year commitment of $50 million dollars to support Nationwide Children’s Hospital and children’s behavioral health initiatives, including On Our Sleeves. Through point-of-sale campaigns, the company has already raised $26 million in support of the movement.

“The past year has tested the resiliency of many, and those challenges have certainly impacted children and young people in unique ways. Big Lots strives to be the BIG difference for a better life in every community, and On Our Sleeves is doing just that by enriching the lives of those who may be facing trying circumstances,” said Bruce Thorn, Big Lots president and CEO. “We are proud to be part of The Million Classrooms Project, offering valuable and practical mental health resources to educators around the country.”

According to Parker Huston, Ph.D., clinical director, On Our Sleeves and pediatric psychologist, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, children have a better opportunity for social-emotional wellbeing if they learn mental health skills early in life.

One founding Alliance member, Boys & Girls Club of America, has partnered with the On Our Sleeves movement to create and distribute “Mental Health Discussion Guides” for caregivers and Boys & Girls Club staff and volunteers across the country. Serving Club members of all ages, the guides offer tips, warning signs and activities to help continue breaking the stigma surrounding the mental health of children and young adults.  

Another founding Alliance member, JOANN, the nation’s category leader in sewing and fabrics, recently teamed up with On Our Sleeves behavioral health experts to create fun and engaging ways children and families can identify, discuss and appropriately express their emotions through age-appropriate crafts. With everyday items found in the home or in nature, JOANN crafters are helping to set the foundation for emotionally healthy children.   

On Our Sleeves® Alliance advocates include other corporate partners Abercrombie & Fitch, Bend Active, Big Lots, Cheryl’s, Columbus Crew SC, Homage, JOANN, Nationwide and Panera. As On Our Sleeves welcomes these founding members to its Alliance, the movement is equally proud to now be a member of  The Mental Health Coalition. Comprised of leading mental health organizations, brands and individuals, the Mental Health Coalition shares On Our Sleeves’ goal to destigmatize mental illness. The movement will also participate in the inaugural Mental Health Action Day on May 20. On Our Sleeves will join more than 200 non-profits and businesses in advocating for breaking the stigma around mental illness. The initiative has been spearheaded by MTV and its sister channels that make up the MTV Entertainment Group.   

Education Partners, such as GoNoodle, Young Minds Inspired, and Boys & Girls Club of America, are helping the On Our Sleeves Alliance fulfill its mission to reach one million classrooms, or 1 in 4 students, by October 2021.

The Alliance will also include hospital partners across the country who are licensing On Our Sleeves resources to use in their own communities. Interested On Our Sleeves hospital licensees can contact Katie Wilkinson at [email protected]

Alliance members also include dozens of Champions; ambassadors and influencers who have used their respective platforms and voices to share the messages and mission of the On Our Sleeves movement. On Our Sleeves dedicated Champions include Ashley Eckstein, Governor John Kasich, Nina West, Sophia Bush, The Harlem Globetrotters, Ryan and Nina Day, and many more.  If you are interested in lending your platform to the On Our Sleeves Alliance, click here.

About On Our Sleeves®
Children don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves. With 1 in 5 children living with a significant mental health concern and half of all lifetime mental health concerns starting by age 14, we need to give them a voice. On Our Sleeves®, powered by behavioral health experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, aims to provide every community in America with free resources necessary for breaking child mental health stigmas and educating families and advocates, because no child or family should struggle alone.

Since the inception of On Our Sleeves in 2018, more than 2 million people have interacted with our free pediatric mental health educational resources at OnOurSleeves.org and our educator curriculums have reached more than 1.8 million students across the United States. We depend on philanthropy to underwrite our mission of providing free educational resources across America and are seeking funding partners to create a meaningful collaboration. Please contact Amanda Dove, director of Corporate Partnerships at 1-866-317-5437 or [email protected] to learn how millions of families can learn about your brand.