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Michael Phelps Foundation Expands Children’s Mental Health Program

Foundation Pledges Over $100,000 in Grants to Provide Social-Emotional Curricula to Boys & Girls Clubs of America for Children Returning to Clubhouses Across the Country

Panasonic Supports Foundation’s IM Program Grant Offering in Recognition of May
as Mental Health Awareness & Water Safety Month

South Portland, Maine  - The Michael Phelps Foundation (MPF) and Panasonic Corporation of North America (Panasonic) today announced the expansion of the IM Program offering to Boys & Girls Clubs of America through the organization’s commitment of more than $100,000 in grants to provide social-emotional curricula as children return to Clubhouses across the nation.

In support of Mental Health Awareness Month (May) and increasing resources for mental health programming, MPF will provide Boys & Girls Clubs of America with the IM program’s social-emotional curriculum – IM Healthy – through a grant for Clubs with returning members. The lesson plans, created in partnership with Nemours, utilizes evidence-based practices and principles to build basic emotional skills that every child needs.

IM Healthy is a simple and easy toolkit for teaching the emotional skills that help kids to do well. And in challenging times, kids need these skills even more,” says D’Arcy Lyness, PhD, child and adolescent psychologist and behavioral health editor for Nemours “The lessons teach kids to know and name their feelings, be confident, notice good things, build grit and perseverance, and handle difficult feelings like nervousness or sadness. These are basic skills that every kid needs – now and as they grow.”

According to Dr. Lyness, children are more likely to have experienced feelings of anxiety and depression because of the isolation and disruption associated with the coronavirus.  In addition to the IM Healthy curricula, Dr. Lyness suggests parents incorporate these simple steps at home to help their kids build emotional skills: 

  • Ask your kids to tell you about a few of the best moments of their day.
  • When your child shares good news, listen with your full attention and give a positive comment.
  • When your child is upset, encourage her to say what’s wrong. Listen and understand first – then be soothing to help her calm down.

“We appreciate the commitment and support of Michael and his Foundation as the IM program provides Boys & Girls Clubs with a life skills curriculum that is valuable and easy to implement,” says Frank Sanchez, Vice President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “During these especially tough times, we are concerned about our kids’ emotional wellness and this added social-emotional learning support will be very beneficial as our Clubhouses begin to re-open.”

“I know how challenging times can really impact the mental health of adults, but children are affected by it too and we want to provide them with support to help them understand what they may be experiencing,” said Michael Phelps, Founder and Board President. “Good mental health is just as important as good physical health and the IM program provides social, emotional, wellness and goal setting lessons that they can utilize as they re-enter the comforts of their Clubhouses. While the summer months are approaching and we are all eager for life to return to normal, we want to remind children and adults of the importance of mental health and water safety.”

To help reach the goal of 100 Boys & Girls Clubs, MPF has partnered with technology company Panasonic to create better opportunities throughout local communities. Phelps and MPF are part of Team Panasonic, which embraces the spirit of contributing to society through purposeful action and innovation.

“The  emotional and social development of children influences not just their happiness but what they can accomplish,” said Lauren Sallata, CMO of Panasonic Corporation of North America. “We are pleased to support the Michael Phelps Foundation in bringing IM Healthy to children across the country. Panasonic believes passion drives progress and has long invested in programs and institutions that support the development of students and youth and tomorrow’s workforce. Together, Team Panasonic aims to inspire today’s youth to dream big and to work hard to make those dreams come true.

MPF launched IM in 2010 to teach children and young adults important life skills including water safety, physical and mental fitness, nutrition, and goal setting. With the uncertainty of swim lessons and programming due to the impact of precautions of the coronavirus, MPF has made the out-of-water components available to eligible Clubs who are able to implement the program following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. For more information and to apply for a grant, eligible Clubs can visit

May is also Water Safety Month and drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As families and communities begin to think about spending time in and around the water, MPF encourages parents and caregivers to follow the ABC’s of water safety:

  • A – Adults: Constant adult supervision in and around water.
  • B – Barriers: Maintain physical barriers in place such as pool fences and remove toys from the pool after each use.
  • C – Classes: Enroll in learn-to-swim and CPR classes; swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of drowning by 88%.

“The drowning prevention community is on high alert for the upcoming summer months because children have not been participating in swim lessons,” said Cathy Bennett, Program Director at the Michael Phelps Foundation. “As restrictions lift, we all need to be mindful of the added excitement levels of children who may be willing to take risks they otherwise wouldn’t as they return to physical activities, especially in the water.”

About Michael Phelps Foundation

The Michael Phelps Foundation (MPF) is focused on promoting water safety, healthy living, and the pursuit of dreams, especially for children. Founded in 2008, MPF has provided learn-to-swim, healthy living, and goal-setting programming to more than 100,000 children and young adults around the world through strategic partnerships with the Boys & Girls Club of America, Special Olympics International, and the Level Field Fund. For more information, please visit:

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 150 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America ( has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,700 Clubs serve over 4.7 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Club programs promote academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook and Twitter

About Nemours KidsHealth® is the #1 site devoted to children’s health and development – in English and Spanish – reaching more than 235 million parents, kids, and teens each year. Part of the Nemours Center for Health Delivery Innovation, develops content and digital tools to engage and motivate families to get answers, help, and the care they need. Nemours KidsHealth also creates KidsHealth in the Classroom, a free website for educators featuring standards-based health curricula, activities, and handouts. For more information, please visit Nemours KidsHealth comes from Nemours, an internationally recognized children’s health system that provides pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy, and prevention programs to families.

About Panasonic Corporation of North America
Newark, NJ-based Panasonic Corporation of North America is committed to creating a better life and a better world by enabling its business-to-business customers through innovations in Sustainable Energy, Immersive Entertainment, Integrated Supply Chains and Mobility Solutions. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Osaka, Japan-based Panasonic Corporation. One of Interbrand’s Top 100 Best Global Brands of 2019, Panasonic is a leading technology partner and integrator to businesses, government agencies and consumers across the region. Learn more about Panasonic’s ideas and innovations at Connect with Panasonic North America: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube

Drew Johnson, Octagon
Dannea DeLisser, Panasonic