Caleb’s Kids helps youth embrace positive mental health

Kiesha Jackson, founder and executive director of Caleb’s Kids  (Photo credit: Quenton Ross, Q11 Photography)

After Kiesha Jackson tragically lost her younger brother Caleb to suicide, she wanted to ensure that no family felt the type of pain her family endured. She also wanted to help youth work through life’s challenges without turning to risky behaviors. Transforming her pain into power, Jackson founded Caleb’s Kids.

Caleb’s Kids is a Detroit-based, nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention, mental health awareness, coping skills and resilience for youth. The organization offers workshops centered around social and emotional learning and restorative practices that positively impact mental wellness.

Rolling out had the opportunity to speak with Jackson to learn more about her journey leading Caleb’s Kids.

Photo credit: Rhonda Jackson, Indigo Photography

Describe your role as founder and executive director.

The role of founder is critical to the creation of any organization. It is this person that saw a vision, need, rallied support and acted on it. I am responsible for the outreach, impact, strategic initiatives, outcomes and longevity of the organization.

What is your most memorable experience leading Caleb’s Kids? 

After one of our workshops in 2019, I had two participants ask if they could talk to me privately. Once we secured a private area, both youth expressed how they had previously struggled with their worth and had previously considered ending their lives. They stated that the tools and techniques learned in the workshop were so encouraging, practical, and relatable, that they now felt that they had tools to work through [their] emotions. They also stated they now felt comfortable speaking to their parents or a licensed professional when those future needs arise. This moment was additional confirmation that Caleb’s Kids is helping.

How can others support young people experiencing mental health challenges? 

The biggest thing is to be there for the young people in your life. Oftentimes, they just need someone to listen. Another way is to familiarize yourself with different tools to help a young person in crisis. These resources are available on our website, as well as our social media pages. Daily, we post inspirational messages of hope that many young people and adults alike lean on for support.

What advice would you give to those looking to start a nonprofit? 

The biggest piece of advice is to just start. Most nonprofits struggle with having clear and concrete plans for success. I encourage you to create a five-year business plan. In creating that plan, don’t be afraid to change course along the way. Being adaptable and fluid to change helps us to continue the life-saving work and create value for that work.

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