Seacoast Mental Health Center, Inc. (SMHC) in Portsmouth presented Charlie Olsen, New Hampshire’s Kid Governor (NHKG) the 2021 Erik Cogswell Memorial Award.
The award is presented annually by SMHC to recognize an individual for their outstanding contributions to help improve the lives of people living with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. The recipient provides Hope, Education or Support for those living with mental illness, as well as those who care for them and/or contribute to the community at large in NH.
SMHC President and CEO Jay Couture praised Olsen for his inspiration to both his peers and adults, as well as for his work throughout his tenure as NHKG.
“Charlie has embodied the meaning of the Cogswell Award. He has used his platform as NH Kid Governor to bring awareness to mental health and to work to erase the stigma often associated with mental health and its treatment” Couture said.
“By sharing his personal experience, Charlie has been able to bring awareness about the struggle many face who are diagnosed with a mental illness. His message of not being alone and to not be afraid to seek care when it is needed, is one that many youth need to hear during a very challenging time as they navigate the pandemic and social isolation. There is not a more deserving individual of the 2021 Erik Cogswell Memorial Award. We are honored to offer him this recognition.”
“I am so honored to be receiving this award. It is humbling to be included with the amazing people that have been chosen to receive this award. Thank you to the Seacoast Mental Health Center and the Cogswell family for considering me,” said Olsen.
“I have been fortunate to work with so many amazing people over the past year…I never thought that I’d be able to be involved with so many amazing groups of mental health advocates and be able to reach so many kids around the state….My main goal is to eliminate the stigma around mental health issues and get kids talking….You don’t have to be afraid to talk about it….You don’t have to do this alone…You are not alone,” he said.
Kid Governor teaches students about government and how it works, the history/process of voting, and the importance of civic engagement through a statewide election for a 5th grade Kid Governor. The lessons align with the Common Core State Standards and take place right from the comfort of the classroom through simple lessons about government and civic engagement. Classes can choose to vote in the Statewide Election or nominate a fellow classmate to run for NHKG. The program is proven to successfully teach students important civic lessons and inspire them to get involved in their communities. In 2021, 1,509 students have registered from all over the state.