First 5 California launched an initiative called “Stronger Starts” on Thursday that’s aimed to rising awareness about mental health among the state’s youth.
The non-profit launched the initiative by hosting an event at the Sacramento Zoo, which included appearances from California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Sacramento Kings all-star center Domantas Sabonis.
According to the non-profit, the initiative is aimed at building awareness for families and caregivers around the impact of toxic stress response and the long-term effects adverse childhood experiences can have on young children until age 5.
“This is another tool in the toolbox to address Californians’ mental health challenges, especially those for our youth because it is the defining public health crisis of our time, ” Siebel Newsom said.
Toxic stress is the physiological, psychological, and socio-economic effects on children and how childhood experiences can lead to their development, the non-profit said.
According to First 5 California’s website, some causes of toxic stress include young children hearing “harsh language” or “experiencing a natural disaster, abuse, unfair treatment, violence or painful loss.”
Sabonis is a parent and is expecting his second child soon with his wife, he said at the event Thursday. He discussed providing a great environment around his home for his family.
“I just always want to put them in the best environment to see them thrive, as a parent it makes me so happy,” Sabonis said. “I’m just excited to partner here so anything I can do to help raise awareness and learn and so I can be a better father and husband and I’m just super excited about this.”
Siebel Newsom has been active in campaigns surrounding mental health including being involved in a recent public service announcement regarding the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline with Sacramento Republic FC, a United Soccer League club based in the capital city.
According to the Republic FC, the goal of the initiative is to create awareness around the resources available to people who struggle with mental health or substance abuse.
The club began wearing a 988 patch on their jerseys this season with a portion of the proceeds from every kit sold going to local mental health and wellness initiatives.