Office of Mental Health Recognizes Onondaga County Prevention Program

Contact Community Services Honored for its Implementation of the ‘PAX Good Behavior Game’ in the Syracuse City School District

Albany, NY – Contact Community Services – a behavioral health prevention agency in Syracuse – has been honored at the New York State Office of Mental Health’s “What’s Great in our State 2018: event. The annual event, held May 8 in Albany, celebrates the people and programs making a difference in the field of children’s mental health.

Contact Community Services works with the Syracuse City School District to implement the PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG) in nine elementary schools. PAX is a universal, evidence-based, prevention approach that improves substance abuse and mental health outcomes, as well as academic, behavioral, and social-emotional skills. The pilot, supported by a partnership between the NYS Education Department and the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, began with the start of the 2016-17 school year and is currently in its second year.

“The Good Behavior Game implemented by Contact Community Services is a perfect example of how a creative program and dedicated organization can make a profound impact on children’s social-emotional wellness. It’s a wonderfully successful game that shows children how to regulate emotions and control behavior,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan. “We thank Contact Community Services and each of our honorees for their hard work and commitment to children’s mental health.”

The PAX GBG improves behavior while teaching children self-regulation, self-control, and self-management. It’s currently implemented in nine of the district’s elementary schools, involving 135 classroom teachers and more than 3,000 students. Using concepts with humorous titles like “spleems” and “tootles,” the game educates young students about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors while reinforcing positive feedback. As a result, teachers spend less time disciplining and more time teaching.

“Contact Community Services is pleased to be recognized for its work in supporting elementary teachers and students in the Syracuse City School District through the PAX Good Behavior Game,” said Susan VanCamp, Director of School Services at Contact Community Services. “PAX GBG is not just fun and games. Extensive research shows that GBG reduces disruptive behaviors, referrals and suspensions, and reduces teachers’ stress levels. In the 2016-17 school year, there was a 66 percent average decrease in off-task behaviors. PAX GBG puts the joy back in the classroom for the teachers and the students.”

For more information on the PAX Good Behavior Game, visit www.contactsyracuse.org/pax.shtml.

‘What’s Great in Our State’

‘What’s Great in Our State’ is an annual event hosted by the New York State Office of Mental Health, the New York State Council on Children and Families, and a number of children’s mental health advocacy organizations in order to celebrate the individuals and programs that are successfully advancing the cause of children’s mental health in New York State. The event features a reading of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement proclaiming the week as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a ceremony recognizing our honorees, and an art show featuring artwork created by children receiving services from New York State’s mental health system. This year’s event will also feature two keynote speakers and a moderated round-table discussion featuring the awardees.

The event coincides with Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a national movement that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and to show that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth.