PAL of North Miami and the Florida Mental Health Coalition offers free therapy for kids

Posted at 11:43 AM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 09:46:33-05

The Police Athletic League of North Miami has expanded its services to help families in need. Services include virtual schooling day camp for students who might not have parents during the day or the necessary computer equipment.

“What we try to do it bridge the gap between police and community, especially with this time with everything that’s been going on with the community and police. So what we do is we help them academically. We’re also now helping them psychologically and we’re also helping them with sports,” said officer Natalie Buissereth from the North Miami Police Athletic League.

To help with stress in kids, The Florida Mental Health Coalition has partnered with the North Miami Police Athletic league to offer mental health services there. The goal is to make it available for uninsured and under-insured kids.

“I would get calls of kids having a problem misbehaving and I realized these kids were not criminals, they were just either misunderstood or just having other issues that needed to be addressed,” said Natalie.

“If they’re experiencing significant mental health issues or not, these skills are essential in buffering against the significant risk factors that these children are now facing,” said Dr. Riwa Kassar.

Dr. Riwa, Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Resident with FHMC, visits the kids once a week after school and offers group therapy sessions.

“If we identify children who need more intervention, I’ll do one-on-one therapy with them. We also include the parents in all of our work,” said Dr. Riwa.

“I go to work. She can’t go [anywhere], so corona affects her more than me,” said Vernante Cadestin, mother of one.

Vernante Cadestin is a mother of one and says her daughter is taking advantage of the therapy session PAL is offering.

“I tell her [that] she needs to take time before you see the difference because it’s not something you in see one day,” said Vernante.

“Some of them are missing their school environment and then because of the stress that’s being put on their families, their home environment is extremely stressful,” said Dr. Riwa.

PAL of North Miami has several programs for kids including peer mentoring, tutoring and more. The nonprofit is located at 12334 W. Dixie Highway. For more information about the programs they offer call 305-899-2626 or click here.