CBAP Update: Passing the Torch

Inside Rushville’s City Center, a group of CBAP (Community Based Action Planning) volunteers gathered in mid-February to share fajitas, successes, and tips for how to keep their momentum going. “This meeting is more of a torch passing than a graduation. We’re always so impressed with the progress Rush County makes. We don’t call you CRush County and CRushville for nothing,” exclaimed Michael Fortunato, the facilitator. He rejoined the group for one last session.


The formal meetings have wound down but not the work. Individual groups continue to meet. Let’s take a look back at the progress made and celebrate the latest successes, including new efforts in addressing youth mental health.



Seven people sitting in a group discussion.

Some of the Mental Health group discuss their progress and how to measure it. Three people have recently joined as they continue to address this important challenge.

The Mental Health Group initially chose to focus on middle school students but has expanded their efforts to support students in grades 1-12. A grant from CBAP’s Rush to Action Fund recently provided “The Get Schooled Tour” by RemedyLIVE, an age-appropriate, interactive, event streamed to all elementary students at RCS, St. Mary’s, and Mays Academy.


The 30-minute session was filled with information in a fun atmosphere. The children learned what mental wellness looks like and what it doesn’t. They focused on the importance of their brains and keeping them healthy. Live interactive polling allowed students to answer questions anonymously via their Chromebooks. After each question, group responses were shown helping students see that they are not alone in their struggles. Questions prompted them to think about who they can turn to with their problems, their habits, and how their decisions can impact their mental health.


Educators received aggregate data to tailor support to their students. The goal is to open lines of communication, break the stigmas around mental health issues, and provide new resources to our students. It’s already started to work.


Jessica Mastin, Student Assistance Counselor at Benjamin Rush Middle School and CBAP volunteer, shared that the program brought up an emotional response in some students at one school due to an incident earlier that day. One of those students used the knowledge gained to do the right thing and reach out to a trusted adult. She also said she received positive feedback from both parents and educators.


The RemedyLIVE event was well received by students,” agreed Lisa Wilson, Principal at Milroy Elementary. “Some of our teachers are doing daily ‘check-ins’ with the students and it’s really working for them. I hope to have something like this for all of our teachers next year.”


All middle and high school students will participate in a similar live, on-site program in May.


Additionally, 360 Mindfulness Journals have been given to all Benjamin Rush Middle School students along with instruction on how to use them. Ms. Mastin reported that several of the students carry their journals with them daily. Drew Hahn of Rush Memorial Hospital returns to the school every week. He said one student filled hers in just a few days!



Much of the work goes through the volunteers at The Open Resource. Through the Digital Navigator program, they have supplied devices to 160 people. 98 have participated in 225 classes. A $10,000 grant from the Rush to Action Fund was used for seed money for a consultant to write an agreement that will be used to attract internet providers and extend broadband access throughout the county.



This group has designed and launched, a logo, and an information and merchandise station at Mocha Moose Coffee Shop in downtown Rushville. They are working to promote the area to visitors and increasing the pride, value, and economic benefit to Rush County by helping others see what is special about our area. They are currently investigating Airbnb and Vrbo opportunities. This group also continues to grow.



When CBAP began, the City of Rushville’s Parks Department had little to no programming. Since then they hired Kathi Jackley as Natural Resource and Program Coordinator and have promoted her to Assistant Parks Director. Have you seen their schedule? Be sure to check out their Facebook page for the latest updates. She has brought numerous events for people of all ages and interests to the community. The two most successful ongoing programs – Tot Time for kids ages 0-5 and their caregivers and Yoga – are drawing so many participants that she is looking to add sessions or find larger spaces. She is always looking to add programming as a way to improve the mental and physical health of the community and involve as many people, both participants and volunteers, as possible. The Parks Department received a $10,000 CBAP grant for 2023 programming.



The group has identified the need for nine signs and permits/right of ways necessary for installation. High costs have prohibited progress so far. They are considering looking to corporate sponsors to help defray costs.



Most importantly the group has opened the line of communication with schools. They’ve identified areas of growth. Promoting the 21st Century Scholars program to alleviate barriers to education has been an area of major focus.



Four micro grants totaling $3280 were awarded to downtown businesses to help improve their street view. See the before and after photos.


Groups gathered to establish qualitative and quantitative measures to aim for and create success. The CBAP process has taught us that when people with common goals come together, they can make progress toward big challenges. Watching connections form has perhaps been the biggest success of all. Whether it’s between individuals themselves or volunteer groups with government, education and corporate entities, positive change is taking place in Rush County. CBAP has come at this work through a new angle and provided our community with another tool to get things done.


Fortunato left the group with these thoughts. “Remember, by the inch it’s a cinch. Little goals get you there. Burn out happens with BIG projects. Small initiatives are intelligent. Start with what’s important and simple. Solutions can take the form of who can get you around the barriers – from what and how to who and why.”


He’s absolutely right. We didn’t get to be known as CRush County by being poor students of the process. We’re so proud of all the CBAP volunteers – thank you for your time, energy, and enthusiasm!

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