Thousands of Sackpacks Awarded to Help Philadelphia-Area Children - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Thousands of Sackpacks Awarded to Help Philadelphia-Area Children

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SOURCE Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS)

National Backpack Program will help thousands of students in Philadelphia - Just in time for the new school year

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two thousand children across the city will receive sackpacks containing essential school supplies today through the Office Depot and the Office Depot Foundation's National Backpack Program, in collaboration with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)  and Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). The sackpacks will be given to several community-based organizations, which offer children prevention services designed to reduce the risks associated with substance use and abuse, to distribute to local students. 

During the past six years, more than 14,000 Philadelphia-area kids have benefitted from the Office Depot Foundation's National Backpack Program-an award-winning initiative designed to place new backpacks and sackpacks into the hands of children who might not otherwise have the proper tools for success.

"The goal of the Office Depot Foundation Backpack Program is to improve quality of life, strengthen the communities we serve and enhance the good work being done to improve the lives of today's most vulnerable populations in Philadelphia and around the world," said Mary Wong, president of the Office Depot Foundation. "We commend the City's dedication to its behavioral health system and its many partnering providers and organizations that make programs like ours possible."

Philadelphia received the sackpacks due to its recovery- and resilience-oriented transformation of its behavioral health system which has drawn considerable attention both nationally and locally through its various programs and groundbreaking initiatives, such as the City's Annual Recovery Walk, its partnership with the world-renown Mural Arts Program, free Mental Health First Aid training for city residents, and the recent #IWillListen Day to end the stigma of mental health issues.

"Our focus needs not only to be on the parent suffering or recovering from substance abuse but also to ensure we are offering our children the appropriate services, programs and tools they need to succeed in the future. We  will continue working with national organizations, like the Office Depot Foundation, as well as local groups and people affected by substance abuse to ensure behavioral health services are family-oriented," said Michelle Heyward, Cross Systems Project Manager, at DBHIDS' Office of Addiction Services.

The sackpacks are made of sturdy, water-resistant material, and include a clear zippered pouch with supplies, such as a pen, pencil and crayons. All bags will be given to school aged children in grades K-5.

"With the start of a new school year just weeks away, these sackpacks will help to ensure thousands of children will start the year on the right foot now and in years to come," said Tina Newstead, Family Resource Manager at Interim House Inc. "On behalf of the many mothers in recovery here, I just want to say thanks. These sackpacks help to rebuild parental relationships, support the notion of recovery and equip today's children for the challenges and opportunities ahead."

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