Speakers announced for Kids’ Minds Matter’s 2024 Signature Event

Registration is open for the Feb. 7 event to support pediatric mental and behavioral health care services

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2023) – Registration is open for Kids’ Minds Matter signature event planned Feb. 7, designed to help write a new chapter for Southwest Florida children and families.

At the event, area storytellers will share their experiences. Speakers include:
• Kelly Maguire, a youth mental health advocate whose anxiety and depression in middle school resulted in a suicide attempt. That experience led her to earn a psychology degree from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2022 and pursue a career advocating for youth.
• Michael Rizzo, Ph.D., has worked with children for more than 35 years for unexpected social, emotional, behavioral and/or academic difficulties. Rizzo is no stranger to these challenges, as he also struggled himself as a child and was later diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and dyslexia.

The theme is “Your Story Matters,” which encourages sharing stories that will help change the future for youth today and for generations to come. Kids’ Minds Matter raises money and awareness to improve access to pediatric mental and behavioral health care. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Arthrex One in Naples. Registration is $500 per ticket.
Sponsors to date include Presenting Sponsor: Robb Family Foundation; Impact Sponsor: FineMark National Bank & Trust; Advocate Sponsors: Audi of Fort Myers & Naples, Cushman & Wakefield, George & Jill Hamilton, The Kim Foundation, Dr. Rick and Ellie Klein, Jill Kushner Realty, LeeSar, RMC Group, Scotlynn, Stock Development and Toler Foundation. Sponsorships are still available.

For information about the event, sponsorships and to register, visit KidsMindsMatter.com/story.

Last year, the event raised $800,000. Funding by Kids’ Minds Matter resulted in 137 families served in 2023 by the Mental Health Navigator program, with a 70.5% increase in school attendance and 71.5% decrease in hospitalizations, expansion of Lee Health’s pediatric mental health programs and services and more than 5,225 people attending advocacy events. New initiatives included parenting classes provided at Lee and Collier County Correction facilities, 86 mental health awareness activities and community presentations.

However, the need is still great. Lee Health has seen a 21% increase in pediatric behavioral health visits from 2022 to 2023, with more than 500 children on a waiting list to receive care. In addition, plans for 2024 needing support by philanthropy include:
• Expanding emergency care for kids in crisis
• Developing an intensive outpatient program and partial hospitalization program
• Growing Golisano clinics throughout Southwest Florida, including Cape Coral
• Establishing outpatient group therapy
• Increasing the number of providers at existing practices to meet demand
• Partnering with Collier and Lee County School Districts to expand the Mental Health Navigator program.

About Kids’ Minds Matter
Founded in 2016 by Susan Goldy and Scott Spiezle, Kids’ Minds Matter is a unified movement in Southwest Florida dedicated to advancing pediatric mental and behavioral health services. By developing clinical pathways to screen and treat patients, enhancing public awareness through education, and lobbying for systemic change and sustainable funding, Kids’ Minds Matter aims to align mental health providers, local agencies, the judicial system, law enforcement, schools and faith-based organizations. Kids’ Minds Matter is managed through the Lee Health Foundation. Please visit KidsMindsMatter.com or call 239-343-6950 for more information.

This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.