Rooted in fostering healthy lifestyles, the Turn 2 Foundation, Inc. created Turn 2 Us in 2001 as a collaborative effort with Public School 128M of Washington Heights and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The elementary school-based program, which promotes positive mental well-being among young people, expanded in 2007 to include Public School 4M and currently serves 1,700 students. Since its inception, Turn 2 Us has provided a comprehensive range of services to students, school staff, parents and caregivers, before, during and after school hours, reaching more than 10,000 people in New York City.
Through its Mental Health Literacy program, Turn 2 Us provides staff development workshops that are tailored to all teachers, administrators, cafeteria aides and other staff, and covers a wide range of topics including classroom tactics and self-care strategies.
Turn 2 Us also provides programming for all students through a holistic approach to achieving mental wellness, from mindfulness exercises, to anti-bullying education, to healthy lifestyle practices that promote well-being and academic success.
For children who may benefit from additional support, Turn 2 Us offers 12-week social-emotional development skills-building groups known as intervention tracks, facilitated by program staff during recess. Teachers who receive mental health training at the beginning of the academic year can refer students by completing a standardized Turn 2 Us Student Activities Referral Form. The program staff and the school's Child Study Team -- consisting of the guidance counselor, special education team, on-site mental health providers and the dean or school administrators -- determine if students should be introduced to the program.
Children who present predominately internalizing behaviors are invited to participate in a 12-week creative arts or drama track, and students who exhibit externalizing behaviors are invited to join either the Basketball or Baseball Healthy Lifestyles League, which is offered across eight elementary schools.
Turn 2 Us stresses the importance of increasing mental health awareness in households. Through workshops designed specifically for parents and caregivers, Turn 2 Us focuses on several topics, including symptoms, treatment, de-stigmatizing, mental health issues, effective stress management tools and discipline strategies.
In October of 2017, Derek and the Turn 2 Foundation, Inc. were honored for their 16-year partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian in Washington Heights. School administrators, students and their parents joined Derek, Sharlee, NewYork-Presbyterian executive vice president and chief operating officer Dr. Laura L. Forese and Dr. Evelyn Montañez, in a special ceremony to celebrate the anniversary.