Organization Highlight: G.E.A.R. Parent Network

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G.E.A.R. - Gaining Empowerment Allows Results

Maine’s only statewide totally parent-run organization raising public awareness of the importance of children’s mental health. Together we can end the stigma and build a healthy environment that emphasizes children’s strengths. For more information: 1-800-264-9224, www.gearparentnetwork.org or find us on Facebook!

An Interview with Shannan Boyorak, Regional Parent Support Coordinator G.E.A.R. Parent Network

What part of Maine does G.E.A.R Parent Network focus on and what audience are resources for?

We have resources for families, educators, and professionals who are working with children, youth and families.  We are a statewide, totally parent-run, organization and have coverage throughout the entire state of Maine.

What topics do your resources cover?

We present workshop topics on a variety of educational topics such as:

ACEs-Being a Trauma-Informed Parent, Linking Childhood Trauma to Long Term Health and Social Consequences, ADHD 101, Autism, Exposure to Toxic Chemicals & Our Children’s Developing Brain, Family Disaster Preparedness 101, F.A.T. (frustration, anxiety and tension) City, Motivation Breakthrough: Six Secrets to Turning on the Tuned Out Child, It’s so Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the child with learning disabilities find social success, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Oh My!, Impulsivity & Disruptive Behaviors in Children & Youth, Responding to Child Abuse & Neglect: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility, Your Rights when Receiving Mental Health Services, Managing Stress During the Holidays, Helping Your Child Manage Their Meltdowns, Positive Behavioral Strategies & Tantrum Management, Raising Successful Readers, Parenting With Dignity, Restorative Practices, Non-Toxic House Cleaning, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Surviving Parenting: Self-Care is NEVER Selfish, Suicide Prevention Awareness, Take Action Against Bullying!, Team Up for Your Child – Family Roadmap to navigating systems; and What Disabilities Qualify Under IDEA to name a few!

We also arrange to have outside presenters for additional topics as requested by parents.

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What kind of resources do you offer to Maine families/teachers/students?

G.E.A.R. Parent Network offers parents and caregivers free: toll-free support and resources phone #, emotional support, children’s systems navigation, support groups, parenting support/education, and resources, educational supportive Workshops/Webinars, 1:1 parent peer support and empowerment by meeting in the community, 1:1 in their homes and by telephone/text/virtually.

 

More about G.E.A.R. Parent Network offerings

Local Conferences & Special Events – G.E.A.R. is the Statewide Sponsor of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week & the Green Ribbon Campaign; Dr. Ross Greene–Lives in the Balance; Family Annual Picnic; Parenting with Dignity curriculum, and we have the only certified master trainers in Maine for Team Up for Families (TUFF) Family and Young Adult Roadmap curriculum. We also offer educational supportive workshops and special events/social events in person and by webinar-based software to anyone who wishes to learn/participate.

R.A.M.P. (Restorative Approaches Maine Project) – A voluntary, free long term (for up to 6 months) in-home 1:1 Parent Peer Support that offers lots of emotional support and encouragement and promotes increasing knowledge, skill-building which results in increasing their family’s resiliency factors to qualifying parents/caregivers via referral.

Family Empowerment Institute – Is a two-day training offered annually that empowers parents with the knowledge and skills to “Pay it Forward” by becoming leaders in their communities through offering 1:1 parent support, education & systems change advocacy training. We support parent participant attendance with a $100/day stipend, mileage & childcare expenses.

Parent-Peer Leadership Institute – Is a fee-based, three-day training curriculum (copyrighted) developed by G.E.A.R. parent staff and vetted by the State of Maine for qualifying parents/caregivers to become “certified” to work in Maine’s

Behavioral Health Homes (BHH) – agencies as Family Peer Support Specialists. All G.E.A.R. staff are certified to work in BHH’s and are available via contract.

G.E.A.R. Parent Network also provides Family Voice and advocacy at the local & state levels.

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What do you love about your organization?

We at G.E.A.R. are all parents of children/youth with behavioral health concerns. We have had lots of experiences with our own kids and have learned a lot by our own experiences, navigating systems and in making mistakes. We want to help other parents to avoid those mistakes and pitfalls and so we truly love that we get to use our knowledge and that lived experience to help other families that may be struggling with similar issues. If we can help just one family get through a difficult time today, it is so worth it!

How has COVID-19 changed the way you reach your audience(s)? Has it been positive or negative for your organization?

G.E.A.R. parent staff had the equipment, technology and were already trained and were providing some virtual workshops (in addition to live at locations across the state) and face to face parent peer support with families virtually when COVID-19 arrived. Due to this we were prepared to provide that education to parents/caregivers and help them transition to receive our parent peer support and education to a virtual platform. We have received a significant increase in requests for parent peer support and have more than tripled the workshop attendance by both parents/caregivers and community partners.

How has Community Learning for ME helped the G.E.A.R. Parent Network?

Having the ability to share our info with educators and families helps us spread our message and get more kids, families and educators involved in our programs.

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What do you wish more people knew about your organization and the work you do?

We find that often parents do not know about us and sometimes they don’t reach us until a crisis occurs and we need you to share our information with parents and caregivers.

We are not case management - we are parents helping to empower other parents because we have been there and we truly understand what they are going through. We provide emotional support in addition to mentoring, parenting education, can direct them to supports, services and information that will help empower them to become more resilient parents! And resilient parents/caregivers = resilient children and families!!