Long-serving Peel District School Board social workers are co-recipients of 2014 Mary Neville Award

Mississauga – Peel District School Board social workers Martha Brunet and Cathy-Lou Newhouse are this year’s co-winners of the prestigious Mary Neville Award.

Cathy-Lou and Martha will receive the Mary Neville Award at tonight’s Joint Celebration in the Mississauga Convention Centre at 6:45 pm following the Annual General Meetings of Peel Children’s Centre and five other Peel social service agencies.

Presented annually by Peel Children’s Centre, the Mary Neville Award recognizes a community member who has made an outstanding contribution towards prevention and early intervention in children’s mental health services.

Nominated by Peel District School Board Trustee Beryl Ford and Associate Director Scott Moreash, the two long-serving social workers at the Board (Martha for 27 years and Cathy-Lou for 26 years) are being recognized as the driving force behind the board’s Critical Incident Response Teams.

“Martha and Cathy-Lou are inspirational leaders in crisis intervention and bereavement counselling. Their vision has changed the way schools think about and respond to students in crisis,” nominators Ford and Moreash said.

When the Board established the Critical Incident Response Teams in 1990, Martha and Cathy-Lou helped the system realize the full psychological impact, both immediate and long-term, that a traumatic incident can have on students and staff. Understanding that crisis response is mental health triage, they taught team members how to address the emotional needs of student in crisis by utilizing a broad spectrum of preventive and interventive strategies, and how to develop a plan for the future needs of the school population.

To enhance their crisis response capacity, Cathy-Lou and Martha have built collaborations with many partners including police, crisis response services, multicultural leaders, the Ontario Bereavement Network, and Turner and Porter Funeral Homes. Beyond Peel, their model for critical incident response has been adopted by many other jurisdictions.

“Martha and Cathy-Lou have made a huge difference to many, many students and families touched by tragedy. [They] are wonderful ambassadors for crisis response, and are truly deserving of the Mary Neville Award,” Ford and Moreash said.

Humphrey Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of Peel Children’s Centre, said, “Cathy-Lou and Martha, it is an honour to recognize your instrumental role in building the Peel District School Board’s capacity to meet the mental health needs of students in crisis.”

Mitchell noted that Peel Children’s Centre established the Mary Neville Award to honour the efforts of the now late Mary Neville, former Prevention Coordinator at the Centre. “Martha Brunet knew Mary Neville and said, ‘Knowing that this award is in honour of all that Mary stood for, makes it even more meaningful.’ Tonight we come full circle in recognizing two visionaries who were influenced by Mary’s passion for early intervention and prevention.”

Media enquiries:
Mora Thompson, Communications Specialist
905-795-3507 or mthompson@peelcc.org

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