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Children’s Foundation inaugural Behavioral Health Scholarship recipient announced

With generous donations from several Children’s Foundation Trustees, The Foundation has established a Behavioral Health Scholarship to be awarded annually. The goal is to support a student in Michigan pursuing a doctoral degree in a mental health field, specifically focusing on a practice that will serve children and adolescents in behavioral health.

Applicants for the $5,000 award represented a wide range of backgrounds, locations, and ambitions, but one really stood out. Congratulations to the inaugural winner of The Children’s Foundation Behavioral Health Scholarship, Kristin Aho of Ypsilanti, Mich as the 2020-2021 academic year recipient!

The 31-year-old Eastern Michigan University second-year doctoral fellow in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program is expected to graduate in 2023. Aho currently manages the Self-regulation, Early Experience, and Development (SEED) Lab at Eastern Michigan University under the mentorship of Assistant Professor of Psychology, Dr. Jamie Lawler. There, she provides low-cost services to families without medical insurance or who are otherwise in need of low-cost care.

Aho’s vision and path certainly aligns with The Foundations mission to improve the health and wellness as she translated in her application essay:

“Many of these children require assessment for disorders that impact learning, but their families cannot afford it or the wait lists are too long. It is intrinsically rewarding to see the direct impact that my work has on clients, including obtaining individual education plans that may help them to achieve their academic goals. It is also fulfilling to see children’s behavior problems improve, parents learn better parenting skills, the parent-child relationship improve, and when necessary, help parents see that their children’s behavior is normative and not pathological.”

Aho’s experience also includes suicide and crisis intervention and a practicum in inpatient pediatric psychiatry; each have encouraged her to pursue a career working with high-risk children and adolescents who struggle with multiple conditions – an area of work where others fear to tread. In Michigan, waitlists for child psychologists can be up to six months or longer, creating a barrier to adequate treatment for mental health problems.

“The need for more providers is clear,” Aho said. “Although this work may feel consuming at times, I find it to be incredibly fulfilling,”

The stipend will allow Aho to focus on the demands of doctorate work and mothering a toddler as she pursues a passion, hoping to change lives and impact the community. Best of luck to Aho this year and into the future!

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