Zippy in New Jersey, USA
The Todd Ouida Children's Foundation is proud to have introduced Zippy's Friends to the United States, with the enthusiastic support of Dr. Gerard Costa, now director of the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University.
The Ouida family established the Todd Ouida Children’s Foundation to create a meaningful legacy for 25-year-old Todd after he died in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Born out of Todd's own successful struggle with childhood anxiety, the mission of the foundation is to:
- Financially support psychological services for children of families in need and promote mental health initiatives for all children
- Raise awareness and reduce the stigma of anxiety and depression disorders in children, recognizing the need for early intervention
- Provide contact information for those seeking help
The foundation supports an annual conference in children’s mental health at Montclair State University in New Jersey and has endowed an annual lecture and research grant in the areas of childhood and adolescent mental health at Todd’s alma mater, the University of Michigan. Several programs for infants and mothers are funded as well. For a complete list of the organizations supported, and a brief video of Zippy’s Friends in action, please visit www.mybuddytodd.org.
Recruitment to Zippy’s Friends has not been easy, as each state is divided into school districts which are hard to engage as one unit. However, Rebecca and Jennifer at Montclair have made huge efforts on this front in the last school year, and have succeeded in signing up no less than three whole districts, involving over 200 new teachers. To keep them engaged, regular teacher support calls are offered on one evening every month.