Russian Delegation Visits North Middle School
Lenoir City News-Herald (Lenoir City, TN)
Posted on September 29, 2002
A delegation from Obninsk, Russia visited North Middle School in Lenoir City, September 27 to observe Mental Health 101, a program that provides a a simplistic educational tool geared toward middle and high school students.
The goal of the program is to dispel stigma related to mental illness, to learn how the brain works, and to gain an understanding of the major mental illnesses and where and how to get help. The Mental Health Association of Greater Knoxville presented the program.
The Russian delegation visited a multitude of children and youth prevention programs sponsored by Ridgeview, a community mental health center located in Oak Ridge. The group observed Ridgeview's programs in Oak ridge, Oneida, Clinton, Claxton and Wartburg. Their tour will also take them to an alcohol and drug residential center administrated by the Helen Ross McNabb Center, and visit with Judge E. Dwight Stokes and staff from the juvenile court of Sevier County to understand the juvenile drug court in that county.
The major objective of this visit will be to familiarize the delegates with prevention programs and treatment concepts that have lead to successful prevention and intervention strategies with children and youth in this area.
The Russian delegations visit came about as a result of a visit Bob Benning, Chief Executive Officer of Ridgeview, made to Obninsk, Russia, with a team that was funded though the USAID/IREX grant by the United Way of Anderson County in September 2000.
At that time Benning met with a team of community volunteers which included three physicians and the vice mayor of the city of Obninsk to attempt to problem solve how to address the co-occurring problems of mental illness and drug/alcohol abuse, as well as the related problems of AIDS and Hepatitis B and C, with the youth of Obninsk and the surrounding region.
The team visiting Tennessee includes on of the physicians that Benning worked with while he was in Obninsk, Dr. Sergey Kirichuk. Other members of the team include Stanislav Kosolapov, the deputy director, Kaluga Region Social Policy Department, which covers the region surrounding Obninsk; Doctor Vera Litkova, from Armavir, Russia; Doctor Margarita Zhuravleva, of Pervomayskiy, Russia; and the team facilitator, Dimitry Nachinkin, form Moscow, Russia.
Benning anticipates that the team will have a good idea of what is working best with children and youth in this area and, hopefully, the next step of the project will be to select the programs that the team feels would be most adaptable as a pilot in Obninsk. If that happens, Ridgeview staff would go to Obninsk to help train individuals in the school system to implement the selected programs.
Since September 2000 Benning has researched and contacted at least 100 national and international foundations to assist in the funding and has researched numerous prevention programs throughout the United States in order to demonstrate the best of what is available. The sponsorship of the Russian team to the United States is through a grant jointly sponsored by the Academy of Education and Development, the Library of Congress Open Door Program, and Sister Cities International and representatives from the Oak Ridge Sister Cities support network. Dr. Ken Luckmann, of the Oak Ridge Sister Cities support network, has worked closely with Benning to write the proposal and to help plan the events during the week that the team will be here.
Text and photos copyright ©2002, The News Herald. Used with permission.
[Reprinted with Permission]